We just returned from our marine biodiversity survey of our two conservation zones in Raja Ampat. The survey was undertaken By Dr Gerry Allen, the regional authority on fish identification and classification & Dr Mark Erdmann , Head of Conservation International's Bird's Head programme. During their 4 day rapid assessment they discovered two possibly three, new fish species & a further 7 fish species were noted as 'beyond their normal distribution ranges'. In just 4 days and 11 sites, the scientists recorded a total of 707 fish species in the 5,600ha Penemu protected area. They were amazed that the average number of species on the sites was 281 species (considered exceptionally diverse) and 3 sites had over 300 species. One site had a truly staggering 357 species on one dive (the second highest fish count ever recorded on one dive).
Aside from its location in the bullseye of the Coral Triangle, Sea Sanctuaries conservation areas contain a wide range of habitats from steep walls and fringing reefs to mangroves and lagoons. This is one of the reasons for the exceptionally high biodiversity.
You can browse a video made by one of the guests aboard Dewi Nusantara on this You Tube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9PGN6dpC3g and another You Tube link shows some of the amazing biodiversity recorded during the trip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH7wEdHfDuc
Our conclusion is that we must prioritise the protection & enforcement of the Penemu No Take Zone first because this is so species rich, biologically important & possibly part of the west Raja Ampat shark nursery. There is also evidence that there is more than one Napolean (Maori) Wrasse nurseries present although we need more research on this.