Marine Life in Raja Ampat

Karst islets in Kabui bay
Karst in Kabui bay
Raja Ampat is a famous destination for tourists who like snorkeling or scuba diving. Its marine biodiversity is the highest in the world.
According to 2011 edition of Diving Indonesia Bird's Head Seascape written by Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock, in Raja Ampat there were 1,427 reef-fishes, 553 hard corals, and 43 mantis shrimps. 
From my personal experience, when I swim over a number of coral reef areas, of this regency, I see a lot of species of fish and other marine creatures. For instance, in Yenbuba strait, I see turtles, sweetlips, boxfish, and black-tip sharks. In Sawondarek, I see barracuda, and batfish. In Arborek, I see trevally, and giant clams.
From my recent scuba diving excursion in Mioskon island, I saw lizardfish, humpback grouper, lionfish, sweetlips and a lot of other fish.
Marine life in mioskon island of raja ampat
Marine Life in Raja Ampat
My favorite snorkeling site is Warduwer beach located in southern region of Waigeo island.
I bring my own snorkeling mask, snorkel and fins. For taking pictures, I bring Fujifilm XQ2 with its waterproof case or Nikom AW 130. The camera is good enough for taking pictures of fish and coral reef. To take pictures underwater, I freedive to 2 - 5 meters so that I could be on the same eye level with the marine creature that I want to shoot. To stabilize my body in the water, my left hand holds a rock and my right hand takes pictures. The results are the ones that I present in this blog.
Here, I see Pink Anemonefish, Orange Skunk Anemonefish, Red and Black Anemonefish; parrotfish, catfish, scorpionfish, Tasselled Wobbegong; sea stars; Christmas Tree Worm and a lot of other marine creatures that are very beautiful and colorful. A beach resort is being constructed at the beach now. Soon, it will operate and its rooms will be available for visitors who want to spend their holiday time at this beach. The name of the beach resort is RAFLOW. It stands for Raja Ampat Flow Resort.

Turtle Conservation Works

In north-east region of Waigeo island, local villagers have been involved in turtle conservation initiatives by protecting nests or relocating eggs of leatherback, hawksbill, olive ridley. Their works are supported by local governments and NGOs, tourist guide association.
Release of olive ridley hatchlings to the sea.
Turtle Conservation Works in Waigeo island
Tasselled Wobbegong fish
Tasselled Wobbegong
Tourists who want to visit Raja Ampat can take international flights from their country to Jakarta - the capital of Indonesia. After that they need to continue their trip by taking domestic flights to Sorong city. Airlines such as Garuda, Sriwijaya, Batik, Lion Air provide regular flights to Sorong city. Arriving in Sorong, they need to continue their trips to Raja Ampat by fast passenger ferry or by speed-boats. 
Visitors who come to Raja Ampat can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, and birdwatching. Most dive resorts have got all the diving gear needed by guests. If tourists choose to stay in homestays, they need to bring their own snorkeling mask, snorkel and fins.
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Drawing of Red Bird of Paradise

Art drawing of Red Paradise Bird (Paradisaea rubra) by Charles Roring
Male Red Bird of Paradise
Early this month, I guided two American tourists to Waigeo island of Raja Ampat. We went there for watching birds, snorkeling and scuba diving. One of our birding targets was Red Bird of Paradise. To watch the bird, we had to wake up early in the morning at 04.30. After making preparations and having tea/ coffee and some bread, we left the beach resort where we stayed in by boat for a beach in southern region of Waigeo. It took around ten minutes for us to reach the beach. We still had to continue our trip by hiking up steep slopes for one hour to the lek of the bird.
Because the path was still dark, we used our flashlight. We walked for 1 hour under the canopy of tropical trees through a narrow footpath. We arrived at 06.00. The paradise birds had not shown up. We waited until the light from the rising sun reached the tree tops. Male Red Birds of Paradise began calling their female counterparts from the top branches. Soon after the female ones had come, the male birds began to dance. They performed courtship dances to seduce their female counterparts. If a female Red BOP is impressed with the dance of a male Red BOP, she would give green light for them to mate. We watched the birds using binoculars. The whole birds show were finished at around 09.00.
The American tourists who watched the paradise birds that morning were astonished with the dance skills of the Red Bird of Paradise. 
I have just finished drawing the male Red Bird of Paradise. Its feather were yellow, brown, red, and some green especially on the head area. It is now available as prints on various products of Redbubble including t-shirts, iPhone/ Samsung Galaxy case, poster, pillows, tote bag, spiral note book and hardcover journal. If you are interested in having some of them, please, visit this web page: Red Bird of Paradise

Christmas Tree Worm

I like snorkeling, freediving and even scuba diving. It is a very good water sport that I like to do when going to the beach. There is a nice beach in southern region of Waigeo island of Raja Ampat which has become my frequent snorkeling spot. Its name is Warduwer. Swimming at this beach, I could see very nice coral reef with a lot of marine life.
There are parrotfish, sweetlips, moorish idol, butterflyfish, and anemonefish. There are other marine creatures as well, such as blue sea star, sea cucumber, burrowing clam, and Christmas Tree Worm.
Feathery sea worm in Warduwer beach
Sabellastarte sea worm

A Visit to North East Waigeo Island of Raja Ampat

I visited north-east coast of Waigeo island last month. I went there with some friends of mine who were tourist guides. We used a long wooden boat that was driven by two 15 outboard engines. Each had a power of 15 horsepower. We started our trip from the market of Waisai at around 11.00 morning time. The sea was calm. The bright sunlight made the sea atmosphere warm. We traveled a long the coast passing by the sea pass to Mayalibit bay, Yensner and Yenpapir village, Mamiaef island, Sopen and Waim island. It was around 13.00 when we arrived at Yenandau beach. It was a very beautiful white sandy beach. We stopped there for a while to have lunch. 
Traveling to Raja Ampat
White Sand Beach in Waigeo island

Snorkeling with 4 Dutch Tourists

Marine life in anemone
Nemo Fish
Two days ago I had a snorkeling tour with 4 Dutch tourists at Bakaro beach. We left Hotel Triton where they stayed at 09.00 by motorcycle taxis for north-east coast of Manokwari city. It was quite a long ride and we arrived the beach around 15 minutes later. However, we did not walked into the water immediately. We still did some hiking tour through an unprepared road, passing by farmlands that belong to the people in Aipiri village. We also saw a lot of coconut trees that stood along the coastal area. We experienced some rain during the morning walk but it was quite short. After walking for 1 hour, we arrived in Bakaro village. It was a nice place for people who liked swimming and snorkeling because it was located in a bay. The sea was calm and the beach was of white sand. 
Marine environment in coral reef
Red and Black Anemonefish; and Three-spots Dascyllus
The Dutch tourists changed their clothings to the ones that were suitable for swimming. A few minutes later, they walked into the sea to enjoy swimming and snorkeling. It was a clear water and they were able to see coral reef, fish and other marine life in the water. They took the pictures of the marine environment using Gopro camera.
I joined them one hour later. I used a good pair of swim fins, a set of mask and snorkel. I said to them that I would do some freedivings especially in coral reefs where nemo fish thrive. I found some colonies of nemo. They lived together with three-spots dascyllus and other fish as well. 
anemonefish, three spots dascyllus in marine environment
Anemonefish in Coral Reef
To take pictures of them, I dived into the depths of 3 to 5 meters and positioned myself to be on the same eye level with the fish. Slowly I approached the nemofish and then pressed the shutter button of my camera. I made a few photos from several different directions. I used Nikon AW 130. It was quite good for taking snorkeling pictures. After spending around 1 hour in the sea, I and the Dutch tourists returned to the beach. 
Snorkeling trip with 4 Dutch tourists
Charles Roring with some Dutch tourists
We continued our tour to Mansinam island where we visited the cross monument and went hiking to Jesus statue. It was a warm summer day. We made some pictures around the area and then walked down to Air Salobar beach in the south of the island. We stayed there for a while enjoying the beauty of the quite beach. 
We returned to Hotel Triton again at 16.00 local time.
One of the tour participants, had a little wound on his feet. He accidently hit the coral rocks at the beach. There were tiny shards from the coral that stayed in his wounds. So, I called a friend of mine who was a doctor to help take them out. She came with her friends and did a little surgery to take the coral shards out of his wounds. In less than 15 minutes she finished the job. We said thank you and good bye to the Dutch tourists. I returned home again with pictures from the sea that I could share in this blog. - written by Charles Roring
Also read:
Snorkeling and Birding in Raja Ampat
Christmas Tree Worm

Vogelkop Bowerbird

Burung pintar (Amblyornis inornata) di Pegunungan Arfak Manokwari
Male Vogelkop Bowerbird stood in front of his bower
Vogelkop Bowerbird is a species of bird that lives in higher elevation forest of bird's head region in West Papua. The bird is called burung pintar (meaning literally smart bird) by local people. I have seen the bowerbird since 2010 when I guide tourists on birding tours to Arfak mountains.

Snorkeling and Birding in Raja Ampat

Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus)
Palm Cockatoo in Waigeo island
I often visit Raja Ampat islands to organize snorkeling, birdwatching and sightseeing boat tour for tourists who like to see the nature life of these tropical islands both underwater and above the water. I usually begin my tour by meeting the participants in a hotel or airport of Sorong city. After that I arrange their transfer to harbor and then by fast ferry boat to Waigeo island. 
The choice of accommodation depends on the request of my customers. They may choose to stay in a comfortable beach resort whose rate per night is more than 100 USD or in a simple homestay whose rate per person per night is approximately 50 USD. Food is provided by the resort or homestay owners throughout the tour. The transfer to the guesthouse can be conducted by car or by boat depending on its location. Arriving at their bedrooms, participants of the tour can take a rest for a while. Lunch is usually served.

Watching The Courtship Dance of Red Bird of Paradise

Birding in Raja Ampat with Charles Roring
Male Red Bird of Paradise
Every time I organize birding trip to Raja Ampat islands, I will always include Red Bird of Paradise as one of the most important targets which tour participants need to watch. The lek of Red BOP is located deep in the tropical rainforest of Waigeo island. The birds gather on certain tree to dance and mate.
Last week, I guided 2 American birdwatchers on a few days hiking and birding trip in Waigeo island. We went hiking in southern region of Waigeo island on the second day of our stay in Raja Ampat. We started at 05.00. It was still dark. We had to use flashlight. Slowly we walked up the steep slopes through a narrow footpath. It took around one hour to reach our birding ground.

Western Parotia - the Ballet Dancer

Male Western Parotia (Parotia sefilata)
Male Western Parotia - the Ballet Dancer
I have just returned from a 12-day hiking and birding tour across West Papua province from Raja Ampat to Sorong and Arfak mountains. I guided two birding tourists from the United States. During the tour, I saw a lot of species of birds and other animals. One of the birds that attracted my attention was Western Parotia. This bird of paradise did not have beautiful feather like the Lesser Birds of Paradise. However, it was considered as one of the most attractive birds of paradise in the world.
Western Parotia lived in mid montane forest of vogelkop region of West Papua. Its feather was mostly black with metallic breast shield feather.
To watch Western Parotia, I and the tour participants had to wake up at 04.30. It was still dark and cold. We made preparation by wearing proper clothing and hiking/ sport shoes. After that, we had tea/ coffee and some biscuits as our morning snacks. At approximately 05.00, we left the guesthouse where we stayed for the dancing ground of the paradise bird. Because it was still dark, we used flashlight. The path to the birding ground was steep. The American birders brought walking sticks to help them walking up the slopes. Sometimes, we had to make several stops to adjust our breath. It took around 30 minutes for us to reach our destination.