Small groups of islets are visible from Piaynemo, the best location to see this charming landscape. There are around 612 islands, floating over an area of approximately 40,000 square km. The blue sea and the greenish patches prove that the Raja Ampat Reef underlying the ocean here is quite shallow.
These islands in the northeastern region of Indonesia not only offer the beauty visible from the lands only. It also has an exquisite underwater charm. No wonder that diving and snorkeling enthusiasts come all the way from various parts of the world to watch it with their own eyes.
1. Characteristics of the Reefs
Raja Ampat, literally means Four Kings, have four huge islands overlooking this area, they are Misool, Waigeo, Salawati, and Batanta. The rest is a collection of small islands. The majority of seafloor that connects Raja Ampat islands is a really old chain of corals. Its existence is supported by natural fields full of algae as food suppliers.
Raja Ampat reef is part of the Coral Triangle, a term to refer to the coral triangle in the tropical seas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and East Timor. Physically, the coral characters in different locations are almost similar.
However, Raja Ampat has special features compared to its ‘rivals’. A total of 500 (537 to be specific) species are interconnected and arranged to form hard coral buildings. At least 75% of coral species in the world can be found in Raja Ampat only. This is what makes Raja Ampat is called as the owner of the richest coral bed in the world.
With such huge area of coral wealth, these islands that belong to Regency of Sorong, Indonesia is home to a variety of marine biota. A survey in 2001 revealed that at least 1000 tropical fish species live here. Some of them have not even been found in other locations before.
2. The inhabitant of Reefs in Raja Ampat
This rich marine ecosystem has a huge variety of marine aquatic creatures. They are:
There is no exact data about the number of all marine fish species in Raja Ampat. Meanwhile, sources suggest that there are at least 1500 species of fish here. It is an amazing number, no wonder that this area is called a marine ecosystem conglomerate.
There are a number of types of fish, some of which are endemic species. A commonly found species here is angle fish in different colors and usually dominated by blue and bright yellow. There are also some small cardinal fish species that often show themselves on the coral reef surface. The popular one, clownfish, also forms colonies in these waters. Reef sharks, gobi fish, snapper fish, parrotfish, groupers, doctor fish, damselfish, wrasse fish, butterfly fish, and many more are found here too. Various types of fish are spread in the waters around Batanta, Waigeo and Misool islands.
Dugong is a species of marine mammals that have a genetic relationship closer to elephants than other marine animals. It almost looks like a seal without fangs and whiskers. Its life expectancy is almost similar to humans. The oldest dugong can be 70 years old with a body size of 3 meters and weight up to 400 kilograms.
These mammals usually hunt in the seagrass area. If you happen to meet this animal, try not to get too close or even touch it. Dugongs are generally solitary animals, so let this creature enjoy its calmness.
Three of the seven most popular stingless jellyfish pools in Indonesia are located in Raja Ampat. One of them is on Lenmakana Lake, Misool Island. It takes 4-5 hours to reach Misool Island by sea from Rakyat Port in Sorong, Indonesia. Lenmakana Lake is home to thousands of stingless gold jellyfish. The water is quite warm, the perfect place for you to take your time in diving.
d. Mollusks and Mantis Shrimp
Mollusks and mantis shrimp are also easily found in here. There are also hundreds of different species of them. Of the 400 mantis shrimp species in the world, 57 of them live in Raja Ampat. Each has a beautiful color pattern that will pamper your eyes. 700 types of mollusks also live here. Including the rare species of giant shells called Tridacna Gigas. Nudibranchs, the most attractive type of mollusks also found here.
Other Raja Ampat inhabitants that its appearance deserves to be waiting for are turtles. This oldest animal species in this world can be found in various locations in Raja Ampat. It is because, since 2014, this location has been designated as a sanctuary for turtles, dugongs, and sharks. Moreover, these turtles also build their nests on the beaches of Raja Ampat area. These types of turtles include green turtles, leatherback turtles, and olive ridles.
Thousands of waters inhabitants in Raja Ampat Islands are waiting to be visited. Come around July to August so you can enjoy watching them at the right time. In those months, the weather is relatively sunny because it is summer around this region. There are many fun activities you can do here. With the diversity of marine biota, Raja Ampat reef is, of course, becomes a paradise for divers, it’s a common knowledge.
3. Diving & Snorkeling Spot
If you are a beginner in diving and snorkeling, there are several perfect locations to try these. Francisco’s Peak, Friwin Island, Mioskun, Manta Sandy, The Passage, Kakatua, Urai, Kabui, Andrea’s Point, Mangrove, Yebuba, and Ransiwor. They all offer gorgeous underwater views with varied depth between 10 to 30 meters from the surface.
Biodiversity Resort provides visiting packages to these points. You can check the location by checking Raja Ampat map. You can ask about the price at the location, Yenanas Beach, Yenbesser Village, Gam Island. If you can’t wait to know all the information about Raja Ampat diving and Biodiversity Resort, contact them in +6281248813677, +6282189222577, or email at [email protected]
4. Safety Diving & Snorkeling Tips
A common rule for beginners is that they are not allowed to go snorkeling and diving alone. An experienced guide must accompany visitors, especially for first-time divers. Divers are even only allowed to dive if they have gone through a series of exercises and certification.
Equipment plays an important part during diving. For snorkeling, wear diving goggles and fins with comfortable material. Be sure to choose the right size for comfort and smoothness when you’re swimming on the surface.
When plunging in the water, make sure to keep swimming or floating in the water even though you’re swimming slowly. Stepping at the bottom of the lagoon may be damaging to coral reefs. Protect the coral reefs condition by not touching anything that looks fragile down there. You are also advised not to leave trash in the sea.
As for divers, there are a number of equipment you should wear. They are BCD (Buoyancy Control Device), oxygen tube with its regulator, depth/pressure gauge, weights, diving mask and fins. You can also bring along knife, flashlight, warm wetsuit and other small details if you think it will be necessary.
Since you are going to dive with a guide, make sure you follow his direction. Lastly, don’t forget to bring along your waterproof camera to capture the magical moments you’ll find. This applies to all, both snorkels and divers.
One thing, whatever you do down there, try to avoid physical contact with sea creatures. This is one way you can do to protect the coral and its inhabitants in Raja Ampat Reef from the risk of damage, no matter how small it is. Coral reefs are important not only for underwater lives, but also for the land lives too.
Now, with all the information above, get ready to pack your gear and visit Raja Ampat immediately.