Come 24th November, I together with another 11 divers will be going to this remote paradise, a divers haven. It is regarded as the mother of all dive sites and is situated at the furthest point of the Indonesian archipelago. So why paradise because it is the richest marine biodiversity in the world!
To give an idea of where and how remote this place is this is a map showing the location:
Raja Ampat* means “the four ‘kings’”, a name dating back to the 15th century, when the Sultanate of Tidore – one of the muslim sultanates in the original Maluku west of Halmahera – appointed four local “rajas” in Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo.
Even earlier, Seramese traders from small islands off the eastern tip of Seram had established trade settlements, sosolot, throughout the region, exchanging cloth, beads, and other products from western Indonesia for trepang, plumes, forest products and slaves from Papua. There where also a strong ties to the island of Biak east of the Bird’s Head Peninsula.
Rock paintings found in caves in Misool and in on the west coast of the Birds Head, as well as bronze artifacts, show that trade with other parts of Asia was already established 2 – 3 000 years ago.
Going further back, it should be noted that just 10 000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, most of what is currently sea in this area was still land, roughly corresponding to the lighter blue parts in the Raja Ampat Map. This means that most of the early coastal settlements in this area are now submerged, and will require underwater archeology to be found and explored.( Ref: http://travels.patrik.com/ra/)
Biodiversity Features in Raja Ampat
and the greater Birdâ€™s Head Seascape
1,356 species of reef fish in the Birdâ€™s Head Seascape
1,223 species of reef fish in Raja Ampat
25 species of endemic reef fish found only in the Birds Head Seascape
600 species of hard coral recorded in the Birdâ€™s Head Seascape
75% of all known coral species in the world
10 times the number of hard coral species found in the entire Caribbean
57 species of Mantis Shrimp in the Birds Head Seascape
13 species of Marine Mammals in the Birdâ€™s Head Seascape
5 species of endangered sea turtles in the Birdâ€™s Head Seascape