Have you heard of the Raja Ampat Islands? They are a unique archipelago off the Western tip of the big island of New Guinea. I’ve been intrigued by this region ever since reading The Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace, and exploring this region above and below water has become a personal passion since my first visit in 1990. It doesn’t hurt that the islands harbor birds-of-paradise, and the coral reefs are now known to be the richest in the world.
As a rain forest biologist and a marine enthusiast, I’m fascinated by places where the rain forest meets the sea. Raja Ampat is a premier example of this. In fact, it is the best I have ever seen. The striking islets of uplifted limestone eroded by sea and weather give Raja Ampat some of the most striking scenery in Indonesia. Here, as elsewhere, the land and sea are intertwined, and due to very little runoff from the porous limestone islands, corals can grow right up to the shore, even under overhanging forest, as you can see in the featured photo below. I hope you are inspired to visit Raja Ampat some day, to support the growing green tourism economy there. I certainly plan to go back as soon as possible!
THE KARST ISLANDS OF RAJA AMPAT
This uninhabited island group in northern Raja Ampat is a spectacular example of uplifted karst limestone weathered into fantastic shapes.
Stag horn coral forest below, and rainforest covered mushroom islands above in the Wayag Archipelago.
As the tide shifts and a high current rushes over a healthy reef of stag horn coral, thousands of damselfish emerge to feed on plankton sweeping by.
FUTURE PHOTO WORKSHOP IN RAJA AMPAT
Raja Ampat is a photographers dream. It is also critically important to spread awareness about this region through visual imagery to support its conservation.
Underwater photographer and marine conservationist Zafer Kizilkaya (Pictured above, and see his amazing underwater photography at @Kizilkaya_Zafer) and I are developing a plan for photo workshops in Raja Ampat starting later this year if Covid allows. If you are interested, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will keep you posted on developments as we finalize plans.
The newest addition to my gallery is my “Underwater World” collection. It’s a small selection of my favorite images that I feel have captured special moments and places underwater, including all the above images. Please visit the gallery and have a look. If you dream of your own past or future underwater adventures, one of my prints might just be the inspiration you need.
Stay safe everyone, and be sure to get your dose of nature therapy!