The East African marine ecoregion occupies a coastal and shallow marine area covering more than 480,000 km2, and extending approximately 4,600 km along the continent's eastern coast. The ecoregion includes some or all of the territorial waters of each of the countries from Somalia in the north to South Africa in the south, as well as the international waters beyond the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
East Africa supports a great diversity of plant and animal life, including some of the Indian Ocean's most diverse coral reefs, mangrove forests, sand dunes, sea grass beds, globally significant marine and coastal habitats.
The species diversity of the ecoregion is very high, with more than 1500 species of fish, 200 species of coral, 10 species of mangrove, 12 species of sea grass, 1000 species of marine algae, several hundred sponge species, and 300 species of crab. These share their seascape with endangered species higher up the food chain as well, including the dugong, and several species of whale and marine turtle. The region's location with respect to winds and currents accounts for the high levels of endemism. It is estimated that around 15% of the ecoregion's species are found across the tropical seas, some 60-70% are found only in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, and another 15% are endemic to East Africa alone.
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