A quick trip round Wayag with Mantra

Because a video can tell more than words.
Have a look on board during one of our latest trips in Raja Ampat.

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Sharks in Raja Ampat – Walking and Swimming

Thanks in part to divers, sharks in Raja Ampat are protected. In 2013, the government of Raja Ampat created the first shark sanctuary in the Coral Triangle. Mantra Dive and Sail helps the government collect funds for the vast protected area. Shark fishing is banned in all 46,000 square kilometers of Raja Ampat’s marine territory.

Simply by spending money in the economy, divers provided strong support for this initiative. Non-government ecological organizations were able to show a live shark has more economic value than a dead one. Recognizing the value of their unique environment, the people of Indonesia have chosen to protect it here in Raja Ampat. Today we will focus on seven shark species that are thriving thanks in part to this protection.

Three species of reef shark, black tip reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, and grey reef sharks, sit atop the food chain and feast in these fecund protected waters. Lurking on the bottom, four more species, whimsical walking sharks, wiggle and waddle through the muck munching on the weird critters in the substrate.

Black tip reef shark in Raja Ampat
Black tip reef shark

Black Tip Reef Sharks

These medium sized sharks rarely exceed 1.6 meters and are easily distinguished by the dark black tips of their caudal and dorsal fins, contrasting with their lighter grey body. They do not range far, living out most of their lives on a favorite corner of reef in an area as small as half a square kilometer. Sometimes they cooperate to herd smaller fish. They are timid and will flee if approached. Perhaps they are nervous because they know they may end up a meal for a grey reef shark or another larger black tip shark. They are among the most commonly seen sharks in Raja Ampat.

White Tip Reef Sharks

The white tip reef sharks, unlike other members of the requiem family, can pump water over their gills so they can breathe without swimming. They often spend the day hiding in caves or overhangs. You can identify them by their narrow bodies with incongruously large broad heads with skin flaps on the sides of their snouts. They are curious and may investigate you, but are not know to attack humans. They hunt at night, primarily by wriggling into cracks to catch the critters hiding in the reef.

Grey Reef Sharks

Grey reef sharks in Raja Ampat congregate in groups of 5 to 20 in the shallow water of reefs near drop offs. These sharks are generally under 2 meters long, and very fast and agile swimmers. You can identify them by the white tip on the first dorsal fin and dark tips of the other fins. You may also be able to identify them by their aggressive threat display if you get to close to them. When grey sharks feel threatened they will adopt a hunched posture and make an exaggerated side to side motion with their body.  Avoid this spectacle by giving them a wide berth, and if one does start to display, back away while keeping them in view.

Walking  Sharks in Raja Ampat?

Both wobbegong sharks and epaulette sharks in Raja Ampat live and hunt in the fertile sediment on the sea floor near reefs. They can swim or move along the bottom by walking on their pectoral fins.

Tassled Wobbegong Shark
Tassled Wobbegong Shark cc 2 Jon Hanson

Tasselled and Ornate Wobbegong

There are two species of wobbegong walking sharks in Raja Ampat – the tasselled wobbegong and the ornate wobbegong. The tasselled variety is alone in its genus, and individuals lead solitary lives. They can get quite large, reaching up to 1.8 meters long, but they are well camouflaged. Beard-like dermal lobes hang from its head and barbels surround the nose.  The name “wobbegong” comes from Australian aboriginal language for “shaggy beard.” The ornate wobbegong also has barbels dermal lobes but is considerably smaller, rarely exceeding 1 meter. Both specices are nocturnal bottom dwellers. They can ‘walk’ on their pectoral fins. Avoid getting to close to them. They may bite people if they feel threatened.

Tassled Wobbegong Sharks in Raja Ampat
Tassled Wobbegong Shark – Lakshmi Sawitri cc 2.0

Epaulette Sharks

Epaulette sharks have a large black spot on each side behind their pectoral fins that some say makes them look like military epaulettes, hence the name. These bottom dwelling nocturnal sharks often wriggle their bodies and push with their pectoral fins to ‘walk’ along the sea floor, so they are also called “walking sharks.”

Epaulette sharks are often stranded in tide pools in the reef when the tide goes out. The sharks and other creatures in the pool use up the oxygen, reducing concentrations by up to 80%. To cope with these deadly hypoxic conditions, the epaulette shark is able to regulate its cardio vascular system dramatically. Blood pressure and heart rate drop by half and blood vessels in the body constrict, concentrating oxygen in the brain. This allows these amazing creatures to survive for hours with very little oxygen.

New Species of Epaulette Shark

Recently, in 2013, marine biologists discovered a new species of hemiscyllium – the epaulette shark genus – and named it Hemiscyllium halmahera after Halmahera island in Raja Ampat. There are 1,000s of species of fish and invertebrates thriving in the protected waters of Raja Ampat, teeming over reefs containing 3/4ths of all living coral species. The seas are full of breath taking underwater sights and abundant life.

More Info About Raja Ampat Liveaboard Dive Trips

Want to know what a trip to Raja Ampat is really like? Read more about Raja Ampat dive sites and Raja Ampat liveboard adventures, and the rare and amazing marine life of Raja Ampat.

Come join us on a cabin booking liveaboard dive trip in Raja Ampat and discover this amazing underwater world for yourself. We also offer private dive charters in Raja Ampat. Experience the incredible bio-diversity at the protected heart of the Coral Triangle. Perhaps you can even discover a new species!

 

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Liveaboard Indonesia – Four Best Destinations

Dreaming of a liveaboard trip? Glide gracefully on the trade winds through the magical sun-drenched islands of the Indonesian archipelago. The romance of a sailing adventure beckons! Read on to learn about the four best destinations for a liveaboard adventure in Indonesia: Komodo Island, Raja Ampat, Alor, and the Molucca Islands.

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Best Destinations for Liveaboard Boats in Indonesia

Indonesia has the second longest coastline in the world, with over 17,000 islands spanning over 1,700 miles, so there are a lot of choices. Because of its location at the confluence of the Wallacea, Sundaland, and New Guinea bio-regions, Indonesia offers incredible biodiversity. Over 70% of coral species and more than 3,000 species of fish inhabit the Coral Triangle marine park. In addition, you can see endemic species of birds and wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else. Read on to discover four of the best destinations for liveaboard adventures above and below the sea.

The Komodo Islands

The Komodo Islands offer liveaboard travelers remote pink sand beaches and a chance to see the largest living species of lizard, the Komodo Dragon. Komodo Dragons can also be found on nearby Rinca Island.  Rinca, Komodo and Padar are all part of Komodo National Park. The government established the park in 1980 in order to protect the dragons. Because the park is the only place you can see Komodo Dragons, the area near the fishing village of Kampung Komodo hosts a lot of visitors.

Komodo Dragon from the front

One of the advantages of travelling on a liveaboard boat is that you can ask your captain to get you to shore at an empty beach, so you can avoid the tourists and have an adventure of your own far from the crowds. Trekking on the island you will see the famous dragons as well as wild pigs, miniature deer, and water buffaloes. Many species of birds also nest on the island.  In addition to the unique attraction of the dragons, the park offers protection to a myriad of pristine diving and snorkeling sites. If Komodo sounds like a place you might want to visit, follow the link to more information about our liveaboard yacht trips to Komodo Island.

Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat lies just to the west of Papua New Guinea at the far east edge of Indonesia. The name means four kings and refers to a myth about seven eggs, four of which hatched to produce kings. Subsequently, the four mythical kings inhabited the four main islands of Raja Ampat: Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waego. The region is remote and unspoiled and the islands are spectacular, with strange shaped under cut rocky cliffs and towers appearing to float above the water.

Raja Ampat consistently ranks in top ten lists for best dive and snorkel sites. Conservation International reports that marine diversity around Raja Ampat is the highest on earth. Liveaboard dive travelers can see an incredible variety of marine life here. Over 500 coral species are busy building reef in the waters around the islands, providing habitat for over 1,500 species of fish. Dense schools of fish throng around the reefs and enormous whale sharks and coelacanth cruise through the region. Read more about our liveaboard sail, snorkel, and dive trips to Raja Ampat here.

Alor

The remote and rugged volcanic island of the Alor lies to the north of Timor Leste and to the east of East Nusa Tenggara. Few tourists visit this unspoiled area. The island is almost all steep mountainous terrain with few major roads. Many people live in small, relatively isolated communities. Consequently, liveaboard travelers visting Alor can experience local culture that has continues almost unchanged for 100s of years.

While most the locals are officially Protestant, they still observe ancient animists rites and revere gods representing animals and forces of nature.  Many of the locals practice subsistence agriculture. Some people grow vanilla and almonds or harvest sandalwood for export. Travelers may enjoy visiting traditional pearl farms and purchasing a few pearls to take home as souvenirs at a fraction of the prices found elsewhere.

 

Alor has perhaps the best dive sites in Indonesia for more experienced divers. The volcanic origin of the region has created underwater contours as dramatic as the mountains island. As a result, divers will encounter strong currents for drift diving and intense thermoclines. The pristine water offers great visibility and an abundance of marine life. Liveaboard divers can see huge Sun Fish, hammerheads and dolphins against a backdrop of a rainbow of coral reef.  Alor is also home to the largest and most dense banks of anemones in the world. Read about our liveaboard dive yacht trips to Alor here.

The Molucca Islands

The Molucca (or Maluku) Islands have long been know as “The Spice Islands,”  ever since Portuguese traders landed in the 1500s and discovered nutmeg, cloves, mace. Modern liveaboard travelers will likely be more interested in the amazing bio-diversity than the spice. There are over 1,000 islands in the Molucca Archipelago, most of them forested and mountainous. The small isolated islands have given rise to many “endemic” species. (Endemic species are those that cannot be found anywhere else.) Rare nocturnal marsupials including cuscus and bandicoots live on the islands. There are around 100 endemic species of birds. Some birds of paradise only live on particular islands in the Moluccas and nowhere else in the world. The Aru islands have animals that also live on Paupua, such as kangaroos and cassowaries.

The seas around the Moluccas have deep trenches, so divers can experience the best wall dives in Indonesia here. Schools of barracuda and scores of smaller creatures unique to the area fascinate divers who make the trip to this remote area. Several species are carry the name of Ambon Island, the Ambon Pufferfish, the Ambon Scorpion fish, and the Ambon Cardinal fish. Bizarre brightly colored species of frog fish hide in the reefs of the Moluccas. Liveaboard divers also see many species of octopus in the region.

Want to Know More About Liveboard Trip Options in Indonesia?

Here at Mantra we love to help travelers get to the most spectacular and exciting destinations in Indonesia for adventures on land and in the sea. Please contact us and tell us your interests. We will be happy to make some recommendations!

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