Newsletter March 2017
By Pierre-Yves Cousteau, www.cousteaudivers.org
Our planet still has exceptional wildlife. But one must travel far to witness some of the last remaining unspoiled areas. Arriving in Sorong brought back old memories of my last visit and it felt so right.
Exploring Raja Ampat on the Seven Seas vessel was an amazing adventure. Contemplating the complex landscapes of stone sculpted by time and the elements, bathing for hours in the heart of the coral triangle, dive after dive, the images of luxuriant coral and exuberant fish began to paint the inside of my eyelids, diluting desires, infiltrating dreams. In this heaven, where days blurred together, one creature would occasionally manifest its angelic grace: the oceanic manta ray.
(Click to watch video)
Swiveling between the pillars of the diversí bubbles, the manta rays come to a stationary hover to clean, casting upon our exhilarated faces and flailing bodies a magnanimous gaze. Later, I become lost in an endless field of corals, the dancing sunlight above raining undulating energy into the chloroplasts of the zooxanthella who feed them. Concentric clouds of fish pulsate around the corals to an imperceptible rhythm, dancing like a membrane between home and the hunt.
» CLICK HERE FOR PIERRE-YVES' FULL BLOG ARTICLE
"This was the worst trip of my life. It was terrible! I partied, swam with mantas, dove to reefs amassed with such beauty I still am not sure if it was a dream or not. I made wonderful new friends and engulfed a new adventure every day. Now I have to go back home to the snow and dream of the moments I had on the Seven Seas. Pinch myself back to reality. Thanks for nothing!!! :)"
Roby Hutchinson (Raja Ampat, March 2017)
» Click here for more testimonials.
Misool Foundation: Protecting the World's Richest Reefs
Soft corals carpet the ocean floor, reef burst with life and mantas glide over pinnacles in an effortless dance. The forty-something dives sites of Misool offer a sublime experience in a location which is one of the last bastions of our untouched natural world.
What many divers who visit the area might not know is that back in 2005 this area was home to several active shark finning camps and the ecosystem was destined for collapse as unregulated destructive fishing accelerated. Fast forward 12 years and Misool is now one of the greatest conservation success stories in the diving world.
Watch Misool Foundation's new film here
Misool Foundation is the organisation behind this incredible story. Misool Foundation, also known as Yayasan Misool Baseftin in Indonesian, is a registered Indonesian charity and non-profit foundation. Its mission is to safeguard the future of the most biodiverse marine environments on earth by empowering local communities to reclaim their traditional tenureship of reefs.
Misool Foundation's conservation work began in 2005, before the non-profit was established. Marit and Andrew Miners together with a small group of maverick conservationists, passionate individuals, and dedicated locals, began the 3-year project to build a resort which would fund the conservation work they all believed in. This began with the creation of a No-Take-Zone, Misool Marine Reserve. In cooperation with the local landowners, a unique contract was signed, banning all fishing or marine-life extraction of any kind in the entire lease area.
"The patrol of the Misool Marine Reserve started in a little plastic dinghy after a day's construction work, chasing down Javanese long-liners by throwing pebbles at them. We fought hard to expel recalcitrant shark-finners from our area. We hassled intruders and confiscated their gear until they just didn't bother coming back," says Marit Miners.
After 12 years of hard grit and perseverance, Misool Foundation has made enormous gains:
- 86% reduction in illegal fishing within the Misool Marine Reserve
- Increase of fish biomass of, on average, 250% in a six-year period
- 25 x increase in shark numbers inside the Misool Marine Reserve compared to directly outside
- Processing two tons of rubbish per day at its community recycling program, Bank Sampah
- A locally-staffed Ranger Patrol that employees 15 local rangers and operates 5 patrol boats from 4 ranger stations
As baby black-tip reef sharks glide around in an area where they were hunted just over 10 years ago, Misool has become a place of hope: hope for the future of the oceans, hope that communities can take ownership of their marine assets, hope that change is possible and can come quickly with enough dedication and unwavering commitment to the cause. Misool is a unique area, blessed with not only incredible biodiversity, but also a strong network of guardians from every corner of our blue planet. Thank you to Seven Seas for becoming a Guardian of Misool.
Click here to help us protect the world's richest reefs
The Seven Seas - Pertokoan Simpang Siur (Kuta Poleng) C1 - Jl. Setiabudi
Kuta, Badung 80361 - Bali - Indonesia