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).

Five bottlenose dolphins on a flat calm day in Raja Ampat

Five bottlenose dolphins frolicked around us on a flat calm day in Raja Ampat

We have been diving in the northern part of Raja Ampat for 3 weeks now with Sorido Bay Resort of Papua Diving. We have amassed a nice selection of images that we hope could illustrate Dr. Mark Erdmann introduction to this fabulous place. Here are some of Yogi images:

A mass of silversides covered the entire reef with skipjack tunas attacking from the periphery. There so much food in the water for all marine life

A mass of silversides covered the entire reef with skipjack tunas attacking from the periphery. There so much food in the water for all marine life

A Thecacera picta nudibranch so tiny it's a  wonder how Otto, our dive huide found this!

A Thecacera picta otherwise fondly known as “pikachu” nudibranch so tiny it’s a wonder how Otto, our dive guide found this!

Another tiny beauty is this dark pygmy seahorse Hippocampus Pontohi surrounded by brilliantly colored tunicates. Pygmy is about 4mm high

Another tiny beauty is this dark pygmy seahorse Hippocampus Pontohi surrounded by brilliantly colored tunicates. Pygmy is about 4mm high

Zillions of glassy sweepers cover this coral bommie and in them hides the sweetlips!

Zillions of glassy sweepers cover this coral bommie and in them hides the sweetlips!

One of our favorite dive site Otdima has a huge school of sweetlips that do not leave!

One of our favorite dive site Otdima has a huge school of sweetlips that do not leave!

This is how close we got without the sweetlips leaving. I could have kissed them and still they wouldn't leave!

This is how close we got without the sweetlips leaving. I could have kissed them and still they wouldn’t leave!

Wobbegong shark are only found here in Raja Ampat and in Australia. Here, it is out of its hole and sits on top the coral

Wobbegong sharks are only found here in Raja Ampat and in Australia. Here, it is out of its hole and sits on top of the coral

Active at night, this walking epaulette shark is a Raja Ampat species

Active at night, this walking epaulette shark is a Raja Ampat species. They are found in shallow mangroves and in the seagrass beds

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