Raja Ampat Islands is a series of four adjacent group of islands located in the western part of the Bird's Head (Vogelkoop) Papua Island. Administratively, it is under the cluster of Raja Ampat, West Papua Province. The islands are now a destination for divers who are interested in the beauty of the underwater scenery. Four islands that belong to the four named after its largest island, which is Waigeo Island, Misool Island, Salawati Island, and Island Batanta.
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The origin of the name of Raja Ampat by local myth comes from a woman who found seven eggs. Four grains of which hatch into four princes who separated and each became king ruling Waigeo, Salawati, Misool Misool East and West. Meanwhile, three other eggs became a ghost, a woman, and a stone.
In the course of history, Raja Ampat area has long been inhabited by the nobility and apply the customary system of Maluku. In this system, the human skumpulan. Each village is led by a king. Since its establishment five Muslim sultanate in the Moluccas, Raja Ampat became part of the Sultanate of Tidore claims. After the defeat of the Dutch Empire Tidore, Raja Ampat Islands became part of the Dutch East Indies claim.
Raja Ampat Islands society generally traditional fishermen who live in small villages are located far apart and different islands. They are a friendly community receive guests from outside, especially if we bring a gift to them in the form of nut or candy. This stuff into a kind of 'peace pipe indian' in Raja Ampat. The event chatting with nut eating also called "Para-para Pinang" often take turns throwing each other mob, the local term for funny stories.
They are followers of Islam and Christianity, and often within a family or clan members who are embrace one of the two religions. It makes the Raja Ampat remain in harmony despite different beliefs.
Wealth of natural resources
Raja Ampat Islands is a place that has the potential to serve as a tourist attraction, especially diving tourist. Raja Ampat Islands waters according to various sources, is one of the 10 best waters for diving sites around the world. In fact, it may also be recognized as number one for the completeness of underwater flora and fauna at this time.
Dr. John Veron, coral experienced experts from Australia, for example, in a site he revealed, the Raja Ampat Islands are located in the most western tip of New Guinea, about 50 miles northwest of Sorong, has the best reef areas in Indonesia. Approximately 450 species of coral had been identified during the two weeks of research in that area.
Team of experts from Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Institute of Oceanography (LON) Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) have done a quick assessment in 2001 and 2002. The result, they noted in these waters there are more than 540 species of hard corals (75% of total species in the world), more than 1,000 species of reef fish, 700 species of mollusks, and the highest record for gonodactyloid stomatopod crustaceans. It makes 75% of the world's coral species in Raja Ampat located. None of the places with the same area has a number of coral species as much as this.
There are several areas of coral reefs are still very good condition with the percentage of live coral cover by 90%, namely in the Dampier Strait (the strait between P. and P. Waigeo Batanta), Kofiau islands, archipelagic South East Misool and Wayag Islands. Types of coral reefs in Raja Ampat is generally fringing reef with gentle slope to steep contour. But also found atoll type and type of scorched or taka. In some places, such as in the village Saondarek, when the lowest tides, coral reefs can be seen without a dive and with his own adaptation, the corals can still be alive despite being in the open air and direct sunlight.
Unique species that can be encountered when diving is some kind of dwarf seahorses, wobbegong, and manta rays. There is also endemic fish Raja Ampat, namely Eviota king, which is a kind of fish gobbie. At Manta Point supernal Arborek Dampier Strait, you can dive in the company of some tail Manta Ray is benign like when you dive in Derawan Islands, East Kalimantan. If you dive at Cape Kri or Chicken Reef, you can be surrounded by thousands of fish. Sometimes a collection of tuna, giant trevallies and snappers. But that stressful if we are surrounded by a collection of barracuda fish, even though it is relatively harmless (which is dangerous if we see barracuda solitary or alone). Reef sharks are also frequently seen, and if you are lucky you can also see turtles were secretly eating sponge or swim around you. In some places like in Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo also seen Dugong or sea cow.
Because the area is a lot of islands and narrow straits, then most of the dive at any given time have strong currents. It is also possible to do a drift dive, dive while following the strong currents with very clear water while breaking through schools of fish.
Prehistoric and historical heritage
In the area of cluster Misool found prehistoric remains etched in the form of a hand stamp on the rock wall. Unique, hand labeling is very close to sea level and not in the cave. According to estimates, the age of the hand labeling around 50,000 years and became part of the route of transmission of human instructions from the western region of the archipelago towards Papua and Melanesia.
The rest of the plane wreck from World War II can be found in some dive sites, such as on the island of Wai.
Visiting these islands is not too difficult although it takes time and considerable expense. We can use the airline's flights from Jakarta to Sorong via Manado for 6 hour flight. From Sorong-town big enough and quite complete facilities for exploring the Raja Ampat-there are two choices, go on tour with a boat phinisi or stay in the resort of Papua Diving. Although most tourists who come to Raja Ampat is currently divers, in fact this location also attracts many tourists due to non divers also have white sandy beaches are very beautiful, the cluster of karst islands nan fascinating and unique endemic flora and fauna such as birds of paradise red, paradise Wilson, maleo Waigeo, various parrots and parrot, possum Waigeo, as well as various types of orchids.
The threat to these islands
Biodiversity in Raja Ampat has made itself has a high level of threat as well. It can be seen from the destruction of coral reefs and forests. Damage to coral reefs in general are due to fishing activities which are not environmentally friendly such as bombs, cyanide and roots bore (liquid from processed roots of beech trees to poison fish).
To preserve the underwater Raja Ampat Islands, conservation efforts is needed in this area. There are two international agencies are concerned about the preservation of natural resources Raja Ampat, namely CI (Conservation International) and TNC (The Nature Conservancy). The Government has set itself the sea around South Waigeo, which includes the small islands such as Gam, Mansuar, Yeben groups and groups Batang Pele, has been approved as a Marine Wildlife Reserve. According to the Ministry of Forestry decree No.. 81/KptsII/1993, this area reached 60,000 hectares.
In addition, several other marine areas has been proposed to be a conservation area. Each one is a Marine Sanctuary South Misool Island, Sea Island Kofiau, Asia Sea Island, Sea Island and Sea Island Sweetheart Ayau.
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