Sea Sanctuaries Blog

Fish diversity in Raja Ampat...


Fish diversity

According to Fishbase (the largest global species database of fish) there are 32,700 different species of fish that have been classified by August 2013. It is estimated that roughly 250 new species are described every year. 1,669 of these fish species can be located in Raja Ampat. This is incredible as this is a much higher number than the Great Barrier Reef which inhabits a much larger area and is widely regarded as a diving mecca. Last Year we discovered three new species of fish in our no take zones proving just how important the marine area is.


In 2013 we were fortunate enough to have Dr Gerry Allen, the regional authority on fish identification and classification & Dr Mark Erdmann , Head of Conservation International's Bird's Head programme conduct a 4 day rapid assessment survey of our No Take Zones. They discovered 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. 


Incredible reptiles....


Blue tailed skink

In Raja Ampat, we have a wide and varied pool of reptiles. This is due to the presence of varying habitats that support lots of different prey items for the reptiles that are largely carnivores. One of the most charismatic reptiles that we see regularly when we are walking through the jungles and rainforests are Pacific Blue-Tailed Skinks. Blue-tailed skinks are usually about 4 to 8 centimetres long. When they become frightened they have the ability to pop their tail off and it will continue to wiggle and distract their predator while they run away. This is an incredible and ingenious evolutionary adaptation. When you encounter them you can actually see their tails dancing wildly just in case you are a predator. We have discussed the local skinks with reptile expert Nick baker and he belives that the one found in Fam is a  Raja Ampat variant specific to our area because of the colouration of its feet! This is just one of the numerous reptiles that we see regularly, we recently discovered what may be a new species of snake too, you can see the details of that expedition here – New species of Snake!