8 – 26 February
If I may, I would like to lift a few bits and paragraphs written by Dr. Mark V. Erdmann, Senior Advisor Conservation International Indonesia Marine Program in his introduction of a new fantastic coffeetable book The Raja Ampat. “Reefs on Steroids”, “The Kingdom of Coral”, “Heart of the Coral Triangle”, “The World’s Richest Reefs” . . . the “King of Kings” has a startling diversity of habitats to explore. Each of these from the stark wave-pounded slopes that drop away beneath the karst cliffs of Wayag and Uranie to the deep, nutrient-rich bays of Mayalibit, Kabui and Aljui Gam to the plankton-rich upwelling areas of Misool and the Dampier Strait – is home to unique assemblages of species that, when taken together, add to produce the most impressive species lists ever compiled for a coral reef system of this size. To date, some 1,320 species of coral reef fish have been recorded in Raja Ampat by renowned Ichthyologist Gerald Allen, with new species being uncovered on every trip he makes to the region. Over 540 species of hard coral have been confirmed from Raja Ampat, with coral scientists estimating there are likely over 550 species existing here (which equates to a mind-blowing 70% of all known coral species on the planet!)” (Erdmann 2009).