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Home arrow Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat

icoThe forgotten archipelago

The Raja Ampat Archipelago (which means four kings) is located in the eastern most province of Indonesia in West Papua (Papua Barat or Irian Jaya). It includes more than 1 500 islands including the four main islands of: Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool.
The Raja Ampat islands , straddling either side of the equator are mainly karstic formations covering more than 46 000 m².  The islands lodge 85 villages and 48 000 inhabitants.

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West Papoua

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Misool: Forgotten Archipelago (Photo E.B.)


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In the middle of the Coral Triangle (Photo A.A.)

Located at the very heart of the “Coral Triangle”( www.coraltrianglecenter.org ) its privileged situation away from the main shipping lanes together with the complexity of its coral reefs (mostly improperly charted) has allowed outstanding conservation of the area.

Here at this juncture between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the area’s strong currents are associated with an upwelling phenomenon (where rich-in-sediment cold waters from the bottom of the sea rise to the surface) therefore encouraging biological exchanges between the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Furthermore the numerous protected bays and mangroves provide perfect conditions for the development of a multitude of larvae.

Not only this but the different types of corals identified here by scientists (please see below Rapid Biodiversity Assessments) are not only incredibly diverse but also show features that are totally unique such as in their resistance to global warming and disease. For this reason the Raja Ampat archipelago is considered by marine biologists as a priority area for protection as it could become a “bio-diversity reserve for future generations”.

Indeed and in particular as regard coral, the Raja Ampat Archipelago should be used to “re-sow” worldwide reefs damaged or weakened by El Nino.

Aware of the richness but also of the fragility of the archipelago, the Indonesian Government is currently battling for a registration of the Area as UNESCO Biodiversity Reserve. A registration form has be completed and submitted to UNESCO in February 2005 by the Indonesian Ministry for Environment.
Below are some abstracts (pages from 146 to 250) of the « Rapid Biodiversity Assessments » survey carried out in the Raja Ampat Archipelago by TNC and the WWF:
«These islands have one of the world’s highest coral reef fish species lists, with at least 1,074 species of which 899 (84%) were observed or collected during the surveys, including 104 new records for Raja Ampat. The CI surveys reported 970 species from this area.»

«Raja Ampat is also known for high diversity of hard corals with the total in the archipelago expected to be over 75% of world’s known coral species.

 
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Bio Diversity (Photo A.A.)
There were 488 hard corals identified during this REA, with a further 35 species awaiting identification using reference collections. There are probably 13 new species.»

In summary, the “Rapid Diversity Assessments” highlighted the urgency in protecting Raja Ampat and in particular the four areas lying south of Misool, and around Batbitim.

« The REAs showed that conservation of the area is an overriding priority for the global community, especially 4 areas: the islands of eastern and southern Misool, Kofifi au, Sayang and Pulau Ai, and the Wayag islands. »

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To go further...

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Protecting Strings of Pearls (PDF)
Report carried out by The Nature Conservancy. TNC, one of the most active NGO regarding marine bio-diversity conservation.

Image Status of Coral Reefs of the World 2004 (6,6 Mo)
Reports published by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. A very comprehensive survey showing a good understanding of the coral reef issue.

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Unesco Report
World Heritage Registration form submitted to the Unesco in February 2005 by the Indonesian Ministry for Environment.
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Raja Ampat Expedition
TNC reports for expeditions in Raja Ampat during the year 2002.

Image The Raja Ampat Islands
Introducing Raja Ampat islands by TNC

Article
Article about a scientific survey carried out in the Raja Ampat Archipelago.