Indonesia Coral Reefs: Status of Coral Reefs in Indonesia After the December 2004 Tsunami


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Indonesia Coral Reefs: Status of Coral Reefs in Indonesia After the December 2004 Tsunami

The 2004 tsunami was the worst natural disaster in the history of Indonesia. More than 120,000 people died or are still missing; more than 500,000 people lost their homes; and more than 250,000 houses were destroyed or damaged; the total damage bill exceeds US$4.45 billion (approximately 97% of Aceh’s GDP);

Seawalls, flood control walls, irrigation canals and jetties have been severely affected with damage estimates in Aceh of US$72.1 million;

The agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and tourism sectors were seriously damaged, threatening food supplies and livelihoods. Fishing was the most important activity in the affected areas and 42,000 – 58,000 fishers and their families were affected, with the total damage estimated at US$52.0 million;

Coral reef damage was assessed as 30% damage to 97,250 ha of reefs; damage varied greatly between sites, with some reefs structurally damaged by the earthquake while nearby reefs were minimally affected; most reefs showed moderate tsunami-related impacts and some reefs were entirely destroyed; and

The most serious ongoing threats to the reefs are from debris washed into the ocean, and coastal pressures of over-fishing, pollution, and unsustainable development. Most reefs will eventually recover if not stressed further.


The 2004 tsunami caused massive damage to Aceh Province, Northern Sumatra and killed more people and destroyed more property than any other event in the recorded history of Indonesia. The first waves struck Simeulue Island, 40 km from the epicentre, just minutes after the earthquake. The most damage on land was in nearby Aceh Province, with severe and widespread impacts found from Meulaboh to Banda Aceh, Aceh Besar and Aceh Jaya. Waves as high as 30 m hit the western and northern coasts of Sumatra, causing catastrophic damage to the coastline and its inhabitants. The tsunami wrapped around the island and waves flooded villages up to 500 m inland on the northeast coast of Sumatra. Flooding on the west coast reached at least 2 km inland and seawater surged as far as 6 km into rivers and estuaries…

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