Indonesia Diving Part 2
When last I left you I was writing about my trip to the Raja Ampat section of Indonesia which is the world's center for marine biodiversity. I led a group there to visit some Seacology projects and sample some of the world's best coral reefs. I just received several photos from Seacology board member and trip participant Shari Sant Plummer. See for yourself how rich the marine life is in Raja Ampat.
On October 12 we visited Waigeo Island- one of the four major islands giving the region its name of Four Kings - or Raja Ampat in the Indonesian language. Waigeo is home to one of the unsung natural wonders of the world, the beautiful 123,000 acre Mayalibit Bay. The fjord one has to sail through to get into the narrow opening of this bay is breathtakingly beautiful. Check out the photo taken by trip participant Jason Marks of our ship, the Seven Seas, sailing into the opening of the bay.
An hour later with our jaws hurting from being agape at the overwhelming beauty, we reached Waifoi Village. Waifoi is one of only nine villages along the bay. Seacology asked each village what they would want in exchange for banning commercial fishing in Mayalibit Bay. They all requested something different from solar powered radios to boat docks to paved walkways (to cut down on potholes which fill up with fresh water and serve as a breeding ground for malaria carrying mosquitos) and that is exactly what Seacology provided in exchange for the commercial fish ban. In Waifoi we were greeted by villagers lining the dock with pitcher plant leis. We then passed through two lines of villagers drumming loudly to greet us.
The reception was heartfelt and gratifying. Chief Silas Luow of neighboring Kabilol Village spoke on behalf of the chiefs of all nine villages when he stated, "We thank Seacology for providing exactly the types of projects we asked for and need the most. We are particularly happy that these projects are tied into protection of our bay which is instrumental to our future."
After a great feast and some local music it was back to the Seven Seas for more fantastic diving and Seacology site visits. If you want to learn more about the Seven Seas boat we were on check out their website at http://www.thesevenseas.net/. One thing I will say about Raja Ampat diving is that it is one of the few places in the world where one can see (and we did) pygmy seahorses and manta rays in the same day of diving. It is a long trip from the U.S. but if you are into diving or marine biodiversity it is a must see.
More to come about our Raja Ampat trip in my next blog entry, Indonesia Diving Part 3.