West Papua, Papua
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At least 1,400 species of fish and still counting, over three quarter of the world's hard coral species, and more than half of the known soft corals. Even though these are superlatives, some of it is old news, especially for people who have dived in Raja Ampat before. Raja Ampat in 2010 was declared as a sanctuary for the sharks. There are many exciting dive sites in a large area.
According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth. Diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and East Timor. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world's coral reef biodiversity, making Raja Ampat quite possibly the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.
The area's massive coral colonies along with relatively high sea surface temperatures, also suggest that its reefs may be relatively resistant to threats like coral bleaching and coral disease, which now jeopardize the survival of other coral ecosystems around the world. The Raja Ampat islands are remote and relatively undisturbed by humans.
The high marine diversity in Raja Ampat is strongly influenced by its position between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as coral and fish larvae are more easily shared between the two oceans. Raja Ampat's coral diversity, resilience, and role as a source for larval dispersal make it a global priority for marine protection.
1,508 fish species, 537 coral species (a remarkable 96% of all scleractinia recorded from Indonesia are likely to occur in these islands and 75% of all species that exist in the world, and 699 mollusk species, the variety of marine life is staggering. Some areas boast enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks.
Raja Ampat Islands have at least three ponds contain unpoisoned jellyfish, all in Misool area.
Although accessing the islands is not that difficult, it takes some time. It takes six hours flight from Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia to Sorong. Then, taking a boat to reach the islands is necessary.
When taking domestic flights in Indonesia, most airline require you to arrive at least one hour before departure time. Always allow extra time for traffic delays en route. For international departures, you should aim to be at the airport 2 to 3 hours prior to departure, but check for any additional time requirements on your ticket.
By air: Most flights comes from Java via Sulawesi to the town of Sorong.
Access to island is via Sorong, which is served domestically by Express Air, Sriwijaya Air,and Lion Air.
By sea: PELNI ships comes to Papua once a week all the way from Java. It takes 5 day 4 night from Jakarta to Sorong, Papua.
PELNI branch office:
Pelni Medan : Jalan Sutoyo Siswomiharjo 127, Medan, +6261 4574176, +6261 4574140
Pelni Jakarta : Jalan Palmas 2, Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, +6231 4393106
Pelni Surabaya: Jalan Pahlawan 112‐114 Surabaya, +6231 3293197
Pelni Denpasar: Jalan Raya Kuta 299, Denpasar, Bali, +62361 765758, +62361 763963
Flight delays and cancelation are relatively commonplace, but services are improving, particularly in major airport such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali, and Makasar.
Most domestic airlines allow a baggage allowance of 20kg, plus your carry-on bag. However, some airlines that operate smaller planes only allow 10kg to 15kg, so consider your packing carefully. Overweight baggage fees are not expensive and range from IDR 20,000 to IDR 50,000 per kilo.
When booking domestic flights via the internet, some Indonesian airline do not accept non-Indonesian credit cards. If you have problem, try using different internet browser. If you continue to have problems, it may be that your foreign card is not recognized. If you are booking a sequence of flights, try to use the same airline for all flight. Whilst this is not always possible, it means that if you miss a flight due to an earlier flight being delayed or cancelled, the airline will assist you to reach your final destination.
Raja Ampat is remote. But the advantage of this is that the reefs and the islands have escaped the mass tourism found in other areas. The reefs are amongst the pristine in the world. Approximately, 45 percent of Raja Ampat is covered by a marine park.
The remoteness of Raja Ampat have some drawbacks. Few facilities for visitors in Sorong and standards are basic. Access to emergency medical services is limited. Although there are local hospitals in Sorong with oxygen supplies, the nearest internationally recognized recompression chamber is in Manado, North Sulawesi. It is strongly advised that divers dive within the no decompression limits.
Misool is one of the world's most prestigious diving areas. It is Raja Ampat's most iconic dive sites. Big fishes such as sharks, rays, barracudas, patrol the reefs. Soft coral in shallow water swinging away under the sunlight. Deeper down, the reefs display high-density coral coverage, and are home to diverse range of species. School of jacks, trevalllies, Napolen wrasse are found here in Misool's reefs. Bunch of critters, nudibranchs, seahorses, shrimps, and many more here.
Misool has a range of dive sites that can be suitable for all levels of divers. Our captain select time dives and dives sites according to tidal changes. If currents look strong at the surface, there are many other sites to choose from.
Many marine mammals are poisonous and venomous to protect themselves from unwanted attention of their predators, or to catch their own prey more efficiently. Poisons are substances which cause pain, sickness, or even death if eaten. Venoms have these effects if injected.
As an example, pufferfishes are poisonous, because their skin and internal organs contain an extremely powerful toxin, tetrodotoxin. This is the stuff that African and Carribean witch doctors are said to use to turn people into zombies. Ironically, Pufferfish flesh is safe to eat, and is considered to be a delicacy in Japan, where it is known as fugu. It can only be prepared for sale there by trained and licensed chefs, but accidents do happen, and deaths from fugu posoning are not unknown.
Sea snakes are not poisonous. They are venomous, because they inject their toxins, using their fangs. Some sea anakes are extremely venomous, their venom being ten times more potent than a cobra's. Why are sea snakes so venomous? After all, they do not need to kill several elephants with a single bite! One reason is that some sea snakes prey on moray eels, which are particularly tough customers and have over millions of years evolved great resistance to snake venom. Extremely potent venom is needed to kill these morays. Another reason for using such powerful venom is that it kills prey animals so quickly they have little chance to struggle and hurt the snake. Fortunately for divers and snorkellers, people are not on the snake's menu. Sea snake may sometimes be very inquisitives, but they are rarely if ever aggresive with swimmers, and in any case tend to have very small mouths and short teeth, which prevent them from biting large objects.
Other more commonly encountered venomous reef inhabitants include the catfish, and the scorpionfishes and their relatives (stonefishes and lionfishes). These fishes all have venomous spines on their backs which they use for defence. While the stonefish is the most feared of all venomous fishes, most stings to divers are caused by lionfishes and are inflicted on underwater photographers. Lionfishes turn their venomous spines towards danger. When confronted with overenthusiastic underwater photographer they naturally turn their back to the camera. This doesn't make a good photo, so the photographer will often wave their hand to one side of the lionfish. The fish will appear to oblige by turning its face to the camera. In fact, it is turning its spines towards the threatening hand. The photographer, concentrating on framing the perfect shot, is too often unaware of the lionfish really up to!
Luckily, first aid for lionfish, and other fish, stings is simple. Most fish venoms are proteins, and as such they are denaturated by heat. An effective treatment for most fish stings is therefore immersion of the affected part in hot water. This should not be boiling, or it will cause severe burns. About 45 degrees celcius is okay. Keep immersed in hot water until the pain subsides.
In contrast to most fishes which use their spines for defence, cone shells have a venomous barb which they use offensively to attack and immobilize their prey. Cones that feed on fish have particularly powerful venom, which can be deadly to humans. There are many species of cones, and it is difficult for non‐specialist to tell them apart. For this reason it is best to leave all cone shells untouched.
Having a potent poison or venom as a defence mechanism is all very well, but if a predator does not know you are well defended he may bite you anyway. Some animals therefore advertise their nasty natures with warning (or aposematic) colours. Such warning colors tend to be bright, and contrasting bands are often present. For example, many sea snakes are banded, while poisonous flatworms and sea slugs are brightly coloured and often striped.
Animals with warning colouration may still fall victim to inexperienced predator that has not learnt to heed their warning. If two species have the same warning pattern, a predator has only to try one and it will learn to avoid them both. For this reason, many dangerous animals have similar warning signs.
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