Newsletter February 2018
Raja Ampat - The Benefits of Enforcement
By John Tanzer. Photos by Robert Delfs & Tommy Schultz.
Sitting these last days in a modern, somewhat stark meeting room in chilly Washington DC seems like another world, in another time, compared to the setting and experiences I have just left. Two weeks previously, my surroundings couldn't have been more different. I was in the Raja Ampat area of West Papua, Indonesia, cruising and diving this remote and beautiful seascape aboard the charming, fit for purpose vessel the Seven Seas.
Despite the starkly contrasting location and context, the topic on the agenda at the Washington meeting was very relevant to the experiences I had recently had on my trip to Raja Ampat. Gathered in the serious room are some of the leaders of various NGOs and science organizations. The central topic for discussion was how to grapple with the insidious and all too widespread ‘paper parks' that litter our oceans. Too often declared with much fanfare but often lacking the protection and management to deliver strong outcomes. Also, the ever-controversial topic of whether MPAs (marine protected areas) can actually benefit fisheries sustainability was inevitably bobbing to the surface.
As I listened to the discussions range back and forth on what should, or should not, be labelled as a MPA and how governments should be encouraged to identify them by use and level of protection and must implement them, my mind kept drifting back to the wild but fragile beauty and marine resources of Raja Ampat. Most particularly I kept thinking about a number of the dive sites where the diversity, size and numbers of valuable food fish was very high – certainly higher than I had seen in other coral reef areas of the pacific and Indian ocean perhaps outside some of the highly protected areas ‘no take' areas of the Great Barrier Reef.
Now I had promised my daughter who accompanied me on the trip that I would not spend time focused on work but really take time out to enjoy the place and she asked that I not bore the people on board with discussions about ocean management etc, etc. I must admit that while I tried and think I did ok (its all relative given that a number of the passengers are way more expert in marine matters than me and certainly much more experienced divers) there was much to learn that was of relevance to my work in marine conservation. It is difficult to entirely disconnect when your day job is ocean conservation and you are visiting one of the most fascinating and diverse marine areas on the planet. Anyway, when you are below the water I reckon its ok to, probably impossible not to, mix work, pleasure, mystery and magic.
» CLICK HERE FOR JOHN'S FULL REPORT AND MORE PHOTOS
Coming up Aces in Raja Ampat: Luck of the draw on a most unforgettable dive
Trip report, video and pictures by Tommy Schultz.
What's the difference between a scuba diver and a Vegas gambler?
Might seem like an odd question, but if you look closely we're really not so different.
We all take leaps of faith, venturing into the unknown, hoping lady luck is going to smile on us this time.
At least that's how I felt on the morning of January 11th, just four days into our incredible 12-day cruise of Raja Ampat on the Seven Seas when I had the luckiest dive of my life.
During the first part of our trip, we were diving some of the many seamounts hidden around the marine park. We found huge schools of silverside minnows, which in turn attracted animals all the way up to the top of the food chain.
Everyone was hoping to see something unusual, and the atmosphere at breakfast that morning was electric.
At our briefing, Cruise Director Karl was careful not to mention certain species by name, lest he jinx our dive (truly the sign of a veteran gambler).
Our group was told to drop down to about 25 meters, follow an undersea ridge until we found a cleaning station where some ‘black and white things' might be hanging out.
Below me, a flash of white just above the reef floor caught my eye. Expecting to see one of the ‘black and white things' from Karl's briefing, I'm framing the photo in my mind's eye – when the shape of a bottlenose dolphin appears, playfully twirling in a kind of undersea dance.
» CLICK HERE FOR TOMMY'S FULL REPORT, PHOTOS & VIDEOS
Raja Ampat - A Photographer's Dream
By Tom Clavelle & Wendy Saville
As I stepped off the tender boat onto the deck of the Seven Seas anchored in Sorong Harbor, I knew Wendy and I were in for a special kind of dive trip.
For 12 relaxing days, this classic Buginese schooner served as home while we cruised the waters of Raja Ampat, treating the 12 divers and 1 snorkeler to the best scuba diving I've experienced in my 15 years of diving! 38 unique dive sites, loaded with tons of fish, extensive gardens of colorful soft and hard corals, turtles, lobsters, octopus, walking and wobbegong sharks, and so much more. Our dive guides, Sadat and Jefri, were masters at finding us such small creatures as the pygmy seahorse, and all those colorful nudibranchs. Who even knew they existed!
» CLICK HERE FOR TOM'S & WENDY'S FULL REPORT
Raja Ampat video by Nicolas Stainer
The Seven Seas - Pertokoan Simpang Siur (Kuta Poleng) C1 - Jl. Setiabudi
Kuta, Badung 80361 - Bali - Indonesia