Whales Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is a marine area with high biodiversity (including a network of seven marine protected areas (MPAs)) in West Papua, Indonesia that belongs to the Coral Triangle, which is located in the western Pacific Ocean. It includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands. The coral triangle is named after its high number of corals (nearly 600 different species of reef-building corals), moreover six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and more than 2000 species of reef fish can be found there.
In Raja Ampat over 15 marine mammal species have been identified, the region was designated as maritime Regency, and a ban on the hunting and killing of all large marine fauna was introduced.
The area includes four large islands (Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool), hundreds of smaller islands and the Dampier and Sagewin strait.
Indonesia consists of 17 508 islands with a major oceanic exchange between the Pacific and Indian Ocean and Raja Ampat is strongly influenced by it. These water routes are used by many whales and dolphins, to migrate from one Ocean to the other, however not much is known about the species.
In January 2015 we were kindly invited by the Eco-Resort Papua Paradise to conduct exploration studies in the seas of Dampier’s strait. The goal was to assess the marine mammal species in this area and create a long-term research and conservation project for whales and dolphins in Raja Ampat.
In less than 6 weeks of field research we found over 15 different species of marine mammals…
Our second visit to Papua Paradise was longer, from December to March 16 and we could gather more information and meet people that will be important for the long-term whale research project in Raja Ampat.
In 2017 we were invited by Papua Explorers to cooperate with the Manta researchers and Dr. Heike Vester was leading Whale Macro Tours on board the Pindito. She found more species and could create an overview and distribution chart.
Dr. Vester visited the University of Papua (UNIPA) in Manokwari and started a cooperation with Dr. Ricardo Tapilatu.
We are now initiating our joint research and conservation project in Raja Ampat and the Seascape Birdshead in West Papua.
December 2017 – April 2018
We aim to explore the abundance and vocal & social behavior of the whales and dolphins in this particular area and introduce a protection plan. The whales & dolphins are under pressure from an increasing tourism industry, plastic pollution and increasing ship traffic.