Sea Sanctuaries have worked with the University of Papua, the Smithsonian Institute, UCLA & Conservation International to install some "biodiversity hotels" in key areas. These sampling devices are known as "ARMS", and they are made of laminate plastic and anchored into the sand/rubble with stainless steel rebar/cable & as you can see from the photo the stacks of plates serve as a "hotel" that invites all kinds of reef animals to settle in - crustaceans, molluscs, bryozoans, worms, corals, even fish.
This technique was developed by the US government agency NOAA as a way of conducting standardized marine biodiversity sampling around the world. As part of our conservation programme we work with organisations like Conservation International & help them carry out Rapid Assessment Programmes where we count all the fish and corals. Over the past decade this has clearly shown Raja Ampat to be at the top of marine biodiversity globally, however, it has only focused on fish and corals.
The idea with the ARMS is to use a more standardized sampling technique that focuses on all the invertebrates especially. They are installed at two depths (10-12m and 30m) and some are recovered after 1 year, while the rest recovered after 2 years. When they are recovered, literally every single animal that has taken up residence is counted, photographed, and identified, giving a standardized measure of biodiversity for the area.
Because the ARMS need to stay undisturbed for 1-2 years we have installed them in sites that won't be subject to lots of liveaboard divers or diving fishermen who might vandalize them or steal the stainless steel hardware.
These ARMS & others like them which have been installed in other parts of Raja Ampat will build a much more accurate picture of the amazing biodiversity of Raja Ampat's marine environment