Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Raja Ampat Reef Fish

Raja Ampat archipelago region has got the highest marine biodiversity in the world. It is a must see destination for visitors who like to see various species of reef fish. When I go to the islands for guiding tourists, I always provide enough time to do snorkeling and freediving. I have got a Fujifilm XQ2 with its waterproof case that allows me to take pictures and videos of reef fish, and other marine creatures that live in coral reef. Sunlight in general can effectively reach 15 to 20 meters below the surface. These are depths where marine life is abundant.
Anemonefish in coral reef of Raja Ampat
False Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in coral reef of Waigeo island
Raja Ampat archipelago
Based on my personal observations of traveling and doing scuba diving or snorkeling in eastern and southern areas of Waigeo island especialy in Mamiaef, Waim, Saporkren, Kabui bay, Kri, Yenbuba Strait, Mansuar, Arborek, Piaynemo, abundant fish can be seen in coral reefs that are less exposed to human activities or in areas where there is current. Kofiau is another important group of islands where the wealth of marine biodiversity is well preserved. In Misool, marine protected areas are the place where reef fish thrive.
Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi) and Lemon Damsel (Pomacentrus moluccensis)  Photo: Charles Roring
Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi) and Lemon Damsel (Pomacentrus moluccensis)
Small-toothed whiptail (Pentapodus caninus)  Photo: Charles Roring
Small-toothed Whiptail in Raja Ampat
Dolphins, whales, Manta, Giant Trevally can be seen in area along the waters of Waigeo, Dampier Strait, near Arborek and between Mansuar and Gam islands. Tasseled Wobbegong and Black Tip Shark thrive in Yenbuba strait and most of the fore reef sites of most of Raja Ampat islands. For much smaller fish such as Striped Surgeonfish, Damselfish, Pink Anemonefish, Orange skunk Anemonefish, Butterflyfish, Blenny, Angelfish, Box Fish, Knifefish and Moorish Idol, they can be seen in most of the coral reef of the archipelago.
Moorish Idol and Butterflyfish from Waigeo island
Moorish Idol and Butterflyfish in coral reef of Waigeo island

Birdwatching and Snorkeling
I spent 5 days/ 4 nights doing birdwatching and snorkeling in Raja Ampat recently. I guided Michael - a tourist from the United States. It was a nice trip because we were able to see Red Bird of Paradise, Wilson's Bird of Paradise, Blyth's Hornbill, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Coconut Lorikeet, Red-cheeked Parrot, Eclectus Parrot, Palm Cockatoo, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Beach Kingfisher, Dusky Scrubfowl, Mimic Meliphaga, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Hooded Butcherbird, Moustached Tree Swift, Pacific Swallow, White-breasted Woodswallow, Olive-backed Sunbird (now also called Sahul Sunbird), Tern, Lesser Frigatebird, Torresian Crow, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Eastern Osprey, and etc.
Wilson's Bird of Paradise
Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus respublica)
I brought a 20-60×60 spotting scope, a good pair of binoculars, and a Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600mm telephoto lens. For snorkeling and freediving, I only brought a mask and a snorkel with my underwater camera. I didn't bring my swim fins to minimize the weight of my travel bag. This equipment greatly enhanced our birding experience. I also was able to take good photos both above and under water.
If you are interested in taking snorkeling and birding tour in Raja Ampat with me as your guide, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Amazon online store has got some good books about Raja Ampat. Some of them include:

  • Diving Indonesia's Raja Ampat by Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock
  • Diving & Snorkeling Guide to Raja Ampat and Northeast Indonesia by Tim Rock and Simon Pridmore.


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