Weh Island or Pulau Weh or Pulo Weh (by the local population commonly referred to only as "Sabang", the name of the largest city) is a small active volcanic island to the northwest of Sumatra, 45 minutes by fast regular ship or 2 hours by ferry from mainland, Banda Aceh. It was originally connected to the Sumatran mainland and became separated by sea after the volcano's last eruption in the Pleistocene era. The island is situated in the Andaman Sea. The largest city on the island, Sabang, is the northernmost outpost of Indonesia.
The island is known for its ecosystem; the Indonesian government has declared 60 square kilometres (23 sq mi) of inland and sea around the island as a wildlife protection area. A rare megamouth shark species was found on shore and the island is the only habitat for the threatened toad, Bufo valhallae (genus Bufo). Coral reef areas around the island are known for their large variety of fish species.
During 1997–1999, Conservation International conducted a survey of the coral reef in the area. According to the survey, the coral diversity is relatively low, but fish species variation is rich. Some species found during the survey include Pogonoperca ocellata, Chaetodon gardneri, Chaetodon xanthocephalus, Centropyge flavipectoralis, Genicanthus caudovittatus, Halichoeres cosmetus, Stethojulis albovittatus, Scarus enneacanthus, Scarus scaber and Zebrasoma desjardinii.
On 13 March 2004, a specimen of the rare and unusual species of shark, megamouth shark, was washed ashore on Gapang beach. Megamouth shark has a distinctive large mouth, very short snout and is broadly rounded in dorsal view. The specimen is said to be the 21st (some say it is the 23rd) sighting of the species since its discovery in 1976. The male shark, measuring 1.7 metres (5.6 ft) in length and weighing 13.82 kg (30.5 pounds), was frozen and sent to the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) for further scientific study. As of 2006, there have only been 36 findings of megamouth sharks in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans.
The 2004 earthquake and tsunami has affected the island's ecosystem. At Iboih village, a large swath of mangrove was destroyed. Debris from the land was deposited on the nearby reefs as a result of the tsunami. In 2005, about 14,400 mangrove seedlings were replanted to save the mangrove forest.
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