Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and 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've been to Raja Ampat several times before, but this is the first time I've sailed to Misool. The name of this island and its geographical location, in the heart of an area called "Coral Triangle"...that I've been dreaming about for a long time...
Updated February 2018. The Waow???? Unfortunately, this magnificent diving cruise ship that used to sail the waters of the Indonesian archipelago, and on which I had the chance to embark in 2015, no longer exists... ???? Unfortunately, it burned and sank in the bay of Cenderawasih, Indonesia, during the night of January 31 to February 1, 2018. I refer you to the message published on their Facebook page and on their site.
As we approach Misool, we discover a cluster of karst islets, capped by greenery. Typical landscape of Raja Ampat, which reminds us a little of 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 Triangleis 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 bounded by the Philippines to the north, Borneo to the west, the Sunda Islands, Timor and Papua to the south, and the Solomon Islands to the east (see map below).
Here, the waters of the Pacific meet those of the Indian Ocean. Right in the middle are the islands of the Indonesian archipelago. With the tides, monsoons, seasons, the influence of El Niño or La Niña, powerful, nutrient-laden currents rush through the straits between all these islands.
The phenomenon is called in English The Indonesian Throughflow (ITF). 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 here to date...
People often ask me why I always go back to Indonesia... For the diver that I am, one of the main reasons is precisely 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 dive days are planned here, south of Misool, before we reach the north of the Raja Ampat archipelago for the end of the cruise. I prepared carefully my box the night before for my underwater photos. In the heart of the Coral Triangle, Misool has the reputation of having beautiful reefs. I can't wait to see it!
The first good surprise when I go below the surface: the water is much warmer than the previous days when we were in the Banda Sea! We go from 24-25°C to 28°C !!! Raaah... Non divers don't realize, but scuba diving has nothing to do with just swimming. Those few little degrees make a big difference when you stay submerged for about an hour (and you're a super cold person like me).
The rest... it's just fantastic. ???? I almost cry with joy in my mask, it's so beautiful. Everywhere it explodes with life and colour. 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 re-form in an instant as in Nemo), which sums up well the underwater atmosphere that reigns here, in the heart of the Coral Triangle...
At the Andiamo site, where I did the little sequence above, we even saw a squadron of mobulas rays a little further, in the blue... (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, at Raja Ampat, we are right in the heart of the Coral Triangleat the epicentre of marine biodiversity. You don't have to be a marine biologist to verify that. You can see it at first glance, on the sites still preserved from degradation due to human activity.
For coral and fish, this translates into an amazing variety and density of coral that I have rarely seen elsewhere, except perhaps at Komodo. I often use the word "profusion" to describe Raja Ampat's holdings, and that's exactly what it is... I never get tired of it.
These two days around Misool pass alas too quickly!
I love it when there's so much coral debauchery, with poiscaille 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 these kinds of intact, healthy, life-sustaining reefs are in ever-decreasing numbers around the world. I feel privileged to have been able to admire such beautiful ones.
I was a guest of the Waow from 27 October to 8 November 2015, for this diving cruise called "Secrets of Seram". All the opinions expressed here remain 100% mine.