Raja Ampat – A Diver’s Paradise: Nature in Focus
With summer (hesitantly) approaching, we all have our minds wandering to sunny beaches and warm azure blue seas – there’s no need to deny it! So, this week I’m telling you about an underwater paradise: the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat, one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots.
Situated at the northwest corner of Indonesia’s West Papua province, Raja Ampat is made up of more than 1,500 islands, making it the perfect destination for some serious island hopping!
Raja Ampat sits at the heart of the ‘Coral Triangle’ and harbours 75% of the world’s known species of coral, more than 1,200 types of fish, rare endangered turtles including the hawksbill turtle, marine mammals such as whales, dugongs and dolphins, and many more. One thing is sure, it more than earned its nickname ‘species factory’! Scientists believe that Raja Ampat’s diversity is such that its reef systems help restock reefs in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans!
Exploring the unknown
A dream come true for divers and scuba-divers around the world, the pristine reefs and waters of Raja Ampat are bursting with life. But this stunning marine ecosystem still has many secrets to reveal. Many of its reefs have never been explored…
That’s not all there is though. The islands are covered with lush tropical jungle and bordered by sublime white-sand beaches. Hidden lagoons, eerie caves, and towering islets, Raja Ampat truly has a lot to offer. From beneath and above the surface, it is one of earth’s most beautiful places.
Protecting this extraordinary biodiversity
The people of Raja Ampat have been protecting their waters and reefs for centuries. However, they weren’t spared from destructive fishing techniques such dynamite or cyanide fishing, and the trafficking of endangered species. To stop any further destruction, the 132 villages of Raja Ampat were given the rights to their waters, and seven marine protected areas were created.
In collaboration with several NGOs, the local communities are fighting back and regaining control over their waters. Conservation is at the heart of education, thereby ensuring that the future generations will continue to care and fight for their unique natural heritage. The extraordinary biodiversity of Raja Ampat today is proof that conservation DOES work and is now the lifeblood of many ecosystems on the planet.
Want to do your part and explore the pristine reefs of Raja Ampat? Check out our Raja Ampat Diving Project and help protect one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots!
Location: Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Project: Raja Ampat Diving Project
This project gives you the chance to dive unexplored reefs, and get involved in marine conservation efforts in the area to ensure that this stunning aquatic environment is protected. One of the project’s main aims is to produce a coastal habitat-map for the area, to help advise local authorities how best to manage Marine Protected Areas. After spending a week learning how to dive and getting qualified, you’ll then spend each day conducting research dives to help monitor and survey the reefs. Community work is another important strand of this project, so you’ll also lend a hand with various local initiatives like beach clean-ups and environmental education classes.