Humpback Grouper

Humpback Grouper (Cromileptes altivelis) is a tropical reef fish whose economic value is very high. It is also called Kerapu Tikus (meaning Mouse Grouper) because the tapered form of its mouth looks similar to the mouth of a mouse. I used to see the fish several times when I enjoyed snorkeling or scuba diving in West Papua. The last time I saw the expensive fish when I was diving in Raja Ampat. I was in the waters of an uninhabited island at a depth of around 20 meters (65.6 feet). I saw the grouper was hiding under a big leaf coral. I did not want to disturb the fish so, I took picture from a distance of around 5 meters. Seafood Restaurants offer various kinds of menus whose main ingredient was the meat of the Kerapu Tikus.
High economic fish in coral reef of Indonesia
Polka Dot Grouper in Coral Reef of Raja Ampat
Because of its high economic values, aquaculture companies are trying to produce the fish in higher quantity through fish farming. Usually the seed stock is taken from coral reef.
In Raja Ampat the massive production of groupers has not been carried out by fishermen. Most of the fish that are supplied to local market is taken from the sea. So, the opportunity for investors to introduce aquaculture business in this region is very high.
Marine life in Raja Ampat - diving in an uninhabited island
Marine Life in Raja Ampat
Coral reef of Raja Ampat islands is the richest in the world in terms of marine biodiversity. Raja Ampat is a very important destination for marine tourism. However, its aquaculture business is still small. 
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by Charles Roring

Pied Imperial Pigeon

I went to Warduwer beach this morning to see the progress of the construction of Raja Ampat Flower (RAFLOW) Resort. It would be continued soon. While I was there, I did some birdwatching. I brought with me my camera the Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600 mm telephoto lens. Inside the complex of the beach resort, I saw some Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor) sitting on the tip branches of a tree. Slowly I walked closer to the birds. They did not fly when they saw me. So, I could take pictures without having to hide behind shrub plants. There were also Hooded Butcherbird on the lower branch of the tree.
Pied Imperial Pigeon in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat
There were also Lesser Frigatebirds that were flying high in the sky. From the nearby forest, I heard the calls of Eclectus Parrot, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Rufous-bellied Kookaburra.

Abundant Fish in Coral Reef of Raja Ampat

This is the photograph of marine life in coral reef of Raja Ampat. It is a very rich environment. With the highest marine biodiversity in the world, Raja Ampat islands are considered as the best destination for marine tourism activities. I often guide tourists to these tropical islands. We enjoy swimming, snorkeling, freediving and other activities that are related to Raja Ampat.
Diving photograph from Raja Ampat
Abundant fish in Raja Ampat islands
When snorkeling with tourists, I often do freediving to take pictures of fish and other marine life in deeper water. Usually the drop off or fore reef area is the place where fish is abundant. By freediving, I could get closer to fish and other interesting creatures of Raja Ampat. 
There is abundant fish in Raja Ampat islands
Abundant Fish at Warduwer beach of Waigeo island
To take pictures, I set my camera to dive or snorkeling mode. In Fujifilm XQ2 or Nikon AW 130, the dive mode is symbolized by fish icon on the camera screen. I often go snorkeling with tourists on 3 to 6 days tour. It is combined with other activities such as hiking, birdwatching and sightseeing. The average number of tour participants is from 1 to 4 people. 
Participants of the tour have to bring their own snorkeling gear such as mask, snorkel, and fins. Sometimes I see one or two participants bring dive computer or waterproof watch. 
Camera is needed to take pictures of this very beautiful marine environment. Sealife DC2000 is a nice camera but readers can choose other cameras as well such as Canon G1X Mark III with waterproof housing. 
If you are interested in taking a snorkeling and wildlife watching tour in Raja Ampat and want me to organize your trip, please, contact me by email to:

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Christmas Tree Worm
Snorkeling Tours in Raja Ampat
Marine Life in Raja Ampat

How to Take Pictures in Coral Reef?

I live in Indonesia, a country that consists of thousands of tropical islands. Most of the islands in the province where I live have got coral reef around them. This allows me to observe the marine life in this very rich underwater environment. During the observation works, I take pictures or make videos of fish, sea stars, coral reef and other echinoderm creatures that I see. 
I usually wear snorkeling mask, snorkel, and swim fins. To avoid fogging on the glass surface of my mask, I apply some shampoo on it. After that I rinse it but I still leave some thin layer of the shampoo on the glass. When I wear it, I will touch my forehead and temples to remove strands of hair that are  trapped between the rubber seal of my mask and face. It is important to remove them to prevent any water leaks when I do the snorkeling, scuba diving, and freediving. 
Three Spots Dascyllus, Red and Black Anemonefish
Underwater Picture from coral reef in Manokwari
Light Factor
Abundant marine life can be seen in the coral reef where sunlight can reach. In deeper water where sunlight has been much reduced, there are not many marine animals that we can see. So the best depths for taking underwater pictures are from 1 to 15 meters. At this depth, shooting a fish or a nudibranch does not need flash. In deeper water, the use of flash, and artificial lights is needed for underwater photography.

Lizardfish in Coral Reef of Raja Ampat

This is the photograph of a lizardfish that I made when I was diving in Raja Ampat. Perhaps its species name is Reef Lizardfish (Synodus variegatus).
Reef Lizardfish (Synodus variegatus) in coral reef near Gam and Waigeo islands of Raja Ampat
Lizardfish in Raja Ampat
I and 3 divers were at a depth of around 18 meters (59 feet) below the surface of the sea when I saw the fish. The sunlight had been much reduced at this depth. I did not activate the flash of my camera to avoid disturbing the marine life when shooting the fish. As a result the picture that I made was not colorful at all. At least I could use it for identification purposes. I used Nikon AW 130 - a compact and waterproof camera that was suitable for snorkeling, scuba diving and freediving.

Flowers in Neighborhood

I had a short afternoon walk around my neighborhood yesterday. I passed by the front-yard of a junior high school, there were several flower plants that I saw. One of them was Red Hibiscus. Because it looked beautiful, I stopped for a while to take pictures. After that I continued walking to meet some people that I recognized. There were several other species of tropical flowers that I saw including zinnia elegans, and plumeria. There was a huge building of a Catholic church in my neighborhood. The name of the church was Santo Agustinus. Its surrounding yard had some flower plants too. I could not identify their names because I did not have the field guide book for the tropical flowers of New Guinea or Indonesia.
Tropical flowers in my neighborhood of Komplex Missi, Manokwari
Kembang Sepatu Merah

Butterflies in Susnguakti Forest

Last week, I guided 2 tourists to Susnguakti forest. They were Geoffrey and Jessica. They came from France. First they took international flight to Jakarta - the capital of Indonesia, after that they flew to Manokwari by Batik air. I met them at Swissbel hotel and organized their trip by a chartered transport vehicle to the forest.
We spent 4 days/ 3 nights exploring the forest to see birds of paradise, cuscus possum, reptiles and insects. The forest was located in the south of Manokwari. We went there by chartered pick-up car that was operated by local villagers as public transportation that connects villages in the south and Manokwari city.
Adventure tur in Susnguakti forest of Manokwari
Cruiser Butterfly
I saw some butterflies such as The Silky Owl, Cruiser, Blue Mountain Swallowtail and some other species which I could not identify. I saw them along the path to a rose apple tree and near the clearing area of our basecamp. The butterfly came out in the mornings when the sunlight was bright. They landed on leaves to take a rest, or collect nectar of flowers and also collect the salty sweat from our exposed hands, shoulders or feet.

Coral Reef in Mansinam Island

Marine life in coral reef
Marine Life in Mansinam island
I went to Mansinam island this afternoon to do a field survey over its coral reef. The island was located across from Manokwari city. We did the survey at Sera Oser beach on the east coast of the island. I was with a friend of mine - Matias. I did the survey by snorkeling and freediving over the coral reef. My friend did not freedive, he only did the snorkeling. To take photographs, I brought my camera - Fujifilm XQ2 that had been put inside its waterproof case.

Snorkeling Sites Near Waigeo Island of Raja Ampat

coral reef and tropical fish of mioskon island
Marine Life in Mioskon island of Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat islands are very important destination for marine tourism. People go there to enjoy swimming, snorkeling and even scuba diving. There are hundreds of coral reef sites in this archipelago which tourists can visit to enjoy snorkeling. The followings are the snorkeling sites that I recommend:

Kabui Bay of Raja Ampat

Kabui is the name of a bay between Waigeo and Gam islands in Raja Ampat. I often organize tours to the bay for visitors who like sightseeing, snorkeling, bird and wildlife watching. The duration of the tour is usually 3 to 4 days. I and the tourists whom I guide stay in a simple guesthouse run by local villagers or in a comfortable beach resort.
The view of Kabui bay as seen from Yengkawe homestay misool salawati batanta waigeo  stayrajaampat
Kabui bay in Raja Ampat
The tour to the bay will be conducted by a speed boat or by a motorized wooden boat. We usually visit karst, and then on the way back to the guesthouse we stop at several small islands to enjoy snorkeling and birding. Because the waters inside Kabui bay are protected by islands, the sea is mostly calm except between July and September.