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A Sanctuary for Snorkelers

  • Date: 08 May 2013
  • Author: Tania Segura, WWF Travel
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The peaceful waters surrounding the quiet Indonesian islands of the Raja Ampat Archipelago are a magnet for diverse and abundant marine life. This region contains more than 1,000 fish species and 100s of types of coral. The Coral Triangle itself is a marine wildlife hotspot teeming with almost 600 species of reef-building corals and housing six of the seven marine turtle species found in the world. For first-time travelers to the islands, it’s an incomparable sanctuary.

“It’s an ideal place to snorkel,” said WWF member John Lewis.

“There’s no turbulence, and the water is comfortable to swim in -- perfect conditions for exploring these underwater marine gardens,” John said.

Raja Ampat is a part of the Coral Triangle, an area in the western Pacific Ocean teeming with marine life. Cathy Plume, managing director of WWF’s Coral Triangle Program, also joined WWF travelers on their trip, lecturing on WWF’s broad strategy to develop and promote sustainable fishing practices in the Coral Triangle. The ultimate goal of acquainting travelers with these pure, unadulterated destinations, Plume said, is to “show the overlap of WWF’s efforts in the Coral Triangle and feel the real impact it has on nature and on their travel experience.”

Raja Ampat - A Benchmark for Marine Protected Areas
Local citizens and government value Raja Ampat’s biodiversity; its local government has placed almost 50% of its coral reefs and mangroves within marine protected areas. WWF Marine Conservation Biologist Helen Fox is currently monitoring the health of coral reefs outside of Raja Ampat’s protected areas to find out how effective they actually are in protecting biodiversity. Within the Coral Triangle, which includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands, 85% of coral reefs face are exposed to threats such overfishing, bycatch, and climate change beach erosion.

Snorkel with WWF.

  • WWF traveler, Jo DeWeese, gazes in wonder at a thin ghost pipefish.

  • A hard coral head is spotted in the waters. Growth of corals are influenced by turbidity, depth and the flow of water.

  • Guide, Ron Leidich taking photo of a nudibranch.

  • Another nudibranch, the Short-lined Chromodoris is usually seen in shallow reefs.

  • The Moray Eel is commonly found poking its head out of the reef and may be easier to spot as you snorkel through the waters in Raja Amput.

  • Guess the name of this nudibranch. The Elegant Phyllidia is more uncommon but has a similar blistery coat that other members of its family have.

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