The archipelago is a series of four adjacent islands located in the western part of the Bird’s Head (Vogelkoop) New Guinea. Administratively, this group is under the Raja Ampat regency, West Papua Province. The islands are now a destination for divers who are interested in the beauty of the underwater scenery. The four islands that became members named by the four largest islands, namely Pulau Waigeo, Misool Island, Salawati Island, and Island Batanta.
The archipelago is a place that has the potential to serve as a tourist attraction, especially diving tourism. Waters of Raja Ampat Islands, according to various sources, is one of the 10 best waters for diving sites around the world. In fact, it may also be recognized as number one for the completeness of underwater flora and fauna at this time.
Dr. John Veron, coral experienced experts from Australia, for example, in a site it is revealed, the Raja Ampat Islands are located at the westernmost tip of New Guinea, about 50 miles northwest of Sorong, has the best reef areas in Indonesia. Approximately 450 species of coral had been identified during the two weeks of research in the area.
A team of experts from Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and National Institute of Oceanography (LON) Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) have done a quick assessment in 2001 and 2002. The result, they noted in these waters there are more than 540 hard coral species (75% of the total species in the world), more than 1,000 species of reef fish, 700 species of molluscs, and the highest record for gonodactyloid stomatopod crustaceans. This makes 75% of the world’s coral species in Raja Ampat. None of the places with the same area has a number of coral species as much as this.
There are several areas of coral reefs are still very good condition with the percentage of live coral cover by 90%, ie in the Dampier Strait (the strait between Waigeo P. and P. Batanta), Kofiau Islands, Islands and South East Misool Wayag Islands. Types of coral reefs in Raja Ampat is a fringing reef generally to the contours of steep ramps up. But it also found the type of atoll and the type of scorched or taka. In some places like the village Saondarek, when the lowest tides, coral reefs can be seen without the diving and the adaptation itself, these corals can still be alive even though they remained in the open air and exposed to direct sunlight.
Unique species that can be found at the time of diving is some kind of dwarf seahorses, wobbegong, Manta and stingrays. There is also endemic fish Raja Ampat, namely Eviota king, which is a kind of fish gobbie. At Manta Point supernal Arborek Dampier strait, you can dive in the company of some tail Manta Ray is benign like when you dive in Derawan Islands, East Kalimantan. If you dive at Cape Kri or Chicken Reef, you can be surrounded by thousands of fish. Sometimes a collection of tuna, giant trevallies and snappers. But those tense when we are surrounded by a collection of barracuda fish, although in fact it’s relatively harmless (dangerous if we see barracudas solitary or alone). Reef sharks are also frequently seen, and with luck you can also see the turtle is still eating sponge or swim around you. In some places like in Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo also seen Dugong or sea cow.
Because the area of many islands and narrow straits, then most of the dive at a certain time has strong currents. It allows also to perform a drift dive, dive, following a strong flow of water is very clear with her through the collection of fish.