By Dian Hasan | July 22, 2010
Raja Ampat means “four kings”, referring to the islands Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo and Misool. This region on the north-western tip of New Guinea comprises about 610 islands spread over 50,000 sq km of spectacular scenery. Here we also find the remote islands of Misool a scenic range of majestic limestone structures with precipitous cliffs and craggy spires.
According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth. Diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, making Raja Ampat quite possibly the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.
- Over 1,000 species of fish
- Over 700 molluscs
- Over 540 species of scleractinian (hard) corals = 75% of the world total
- 4.6 million hectares of reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and rocky coastline
- Scarcely populated and minimal industrial development
No wonder that this ecosystem attracts more and more divers and is earmarked by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Culture for future eco-tourism development. With this in mind, the Government of Indonesia is looking to nominate the archipelago as a World Heritage Site.
Some of the highlights include the great dives and under as well as above water caves of Misool, the blue water mangroves, the reefs of the Fam Islands, the fish and manta rays of the Dampier straight, the pearl farm at Aljui Bay and the great karst islands of the Wayag Archipelago. Then there are the extensive mangrove forests and the many deserted beaches. Some excellent diving can be found in the “blue water mangroves” just west of the Island of Misool. In the north there is some superb critter diving at Waigeo Island and great coral and fish dives in Dampier Straight.
The underwater world is enchanting with the greatest and healthiest coral reef biodiversity of its size in the world, nearly 1,200 species of fish and 540 species of coral have been recorded, 70% of the world’s total number of coral species.