Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text:
In the waters of Misool, in the south of Raja Ampat, there are swarms of glittering fish and multicoloured coral in a mess... I take you on a dive cruise in the heart of the Coral Triangle, in Indonesia.
Set course for Raja Ampat and Misool!
November 2, 2015. I'm on board the Waow, a magnificent three-masted ship specially designed for diving cruises. After the Banda Islands and incredible encounters with Hammerheadswe are now approaching the south of Raja Ampatwith dives in the waters of Misool Island (Pulau Misool, in Indonesian).
I have already been to Raja Ampat several times, but this is the first time that I sail to Misool. The name of this island and its geographical situation, in the heart of an area called "Coral Triangle"...that I've been dreaming about for a long time...
Updated February 2018. The Waow, this magnificent cruise-diving boat that used to sail the waters of the Indonesian archipelago, and on board of which I had the chance to embark in 2015, does not exist anymore... 😢 It unfortunately burned and sank, in the bay of Cenderawasih, in Indonesia, in the night of January 31 to February 1, 2018. I refer you to the message published on their Facebook page and on their site.
Approaching Misool, we discover a cluster of karst islands, covered with greenery. Typical landscape of Raja Ampat, which reminds a little the bay of Phang Nga in Thailand (Krabi, Koh Phi Phi).
The Coral Triangle, a treasure trove of biodiversity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans
The Coral TriangleIt is the richest region in the world for marine biodiversity: the area is home to 76% of the world's coral species! This triangle is roughly delimited by the Philippines in the north, Borneo in the west, the Sunda Islands, Timor and Papua in the south, up to the Solomon Islands in the east (see the map below).
At this place, the waters of the Pacific meet those of the Indian Ocean. In the middle, there are the islands of the Indonesian archipelago. Depending on the tides, the monsoons, the seasons, the influence of El Niño or La Niña, powerful and nutrient-laden currents rush through the straits between all these islands.
The phenomenon is called in English The Indonesian Throughflow (ITF). It's a great mix, a source of life and an underwater profusion absolutely unique in the world! More than 1,400 species of fish and some 600 species of coral have been recorded to date...
I am often asked why I keep going back to Indonesia... For the diver that I am, one of the main reasons is the beauty of the underwater landscapes and the extraordinary richness of the fauna in this famous Coral Triangle! Impossible to get tired of the seas of the Indonesian archipelago!
Two days of diving are planned here, south of Misool, before we reach the northern part of the Raja Ampat archipelago for the end of the cruise. I have carefully prepared my box the day before for my underwater pictures. In the heart of the Coral Triangle, Misool has the reputation of having beautiful reefs. I can't wait to see it!
First good surprise when I go under the surface: the water is much warmer than the previous days when we were in Banda Sea! We go from 24-25°C to 28°C ! Raaah... Non-divers do not realize it, but scuba diving has nothing to do with simple swimming. These few small degrees make a big difference when you stay underwater for about one hour (and you are a super cold person like me).
The rest... It's just fantastic. 😮 I'm almost crying with joy in my mask, so beautiful. Everywhere, it explodes with life and colors. The reefs abound in gorgonians and there's a spectacular mass of fish.
Pictures are better than a long speech. To begin, I give you below a short video sequence, full of life (with glittering fish balls that form and reform in an instant as in Nemo), which sums up the underwater atmosphere of this place, in the heart of the Coral Triangle...
At the Andiamo site, where I made the small sequence above, we even saw a little further, in the blue, a squadron of mobulas rays... (Sigh.)
On the coral side, I've taken a lot of pictures during these two days!
I take pictures, I switch to video mode, I go back to the photos and I don't know where to put my head... 😲 😮
Coral Reef Splendor
As I explained above, in Raja Ampat, we are right in the heart of the Coral Triangleat the epicenter of marine biodiversity. You don't need to be a marine biologist to verify this. You can see it at first glance, on the sites still preserved from degradation due to human activity.
For the coral and fishes, this translates into an amazing variety and a density as I have rarely seen elsewhere, except maybe in Komodo. I often use the word "profusion" to describe the bottoms of Raja Ampat and that's exactly what it is... I can't get enough of it.
These two days around Misool pass alas too quickly!
I love it when there is such an abundance of coral, with fish everywhere! The little I saw of Misool impressed me quite a bit, I must admit. I'll have to come back... 😈
The more I dive, the more the beauty of the underwater world touches me, moves me. The more I'm sensitive to its fragility, too.. Because this kind of intact reefs, full of health, where life proliferates, are less and less numerous all over the world. I feel privileged to have been able to admire such beautiful ones.
I was the guest of the Waow from October 27 to November 8, 2015, for this dive-cruise named "Secrets of Seram". All opinions expressed here remain 100% my own.