Expedition to the Raja Ampat Islands: Exhilarating Diving

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Published on December 26th, 2009  |  Discuss This Article  

10-Giant-Grouper_PU

(Editor’s note: Conservancy Senior Marine Scientist Alison Green is on an expedition to the Raja Ampat islands in Indonesia — amidst some of the most spectacular and biodiverse coral reef ecosystems in the world. Catch up on all her posts from the expedition.)

This afternoon we went on an exhilarating dive at one of Southeast Misool’s most popular dive sites – Kaleidoscope, off the western point of Jef Pele Island.

The dive site is a ridge that extends out from the point at about 20m depth, with precipitous drops on either side. There’s a strong current and the ridge is covered with spectacular sea fans and soft corals.

But the really exciting thing is the big fish. And I mean BIG FISH!!!!!

We saw two huge giant grouper and a large napoleon wrasse – all over 1.5m long! Giant grouper are extremely vulnerable to overfishing and incredibly rare to see these days.

These groupers are very territorial and they swam right up to Purwanto Irawan and Andreas Muljadi. The groupers opened their mouths and bared their teeth, letting them know our divers were trespassing in their territory!

Seeing two large giant groupers is a rare sight, and the team was very excited. Dwi Ari Wibowo, the newest member of the Raja Ampat monitoring team, was particularly excited because he had never seen anything like that before!

Areas that are home to these magnificent creatures will be a high priority for protection in the marine protected area.

What an awesome dive.

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(Image 1: Giant grouper (over 1.5m long) at Kaleidoskop dive site. The sucker fish on its side is 30cm long! Credit: Purwanto Irawan. Image 2: Sea fans on an underwater ridge, Raja Ampat. Credit: Papua Diving.)

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Comments: Expedition to the Raja Ampat Islands: Exhilarating Diving

  •  Comment from Inner Game

    Wow… I just came back from a diving holiday in Byron Bay in Australia. It was pretty epic, but nothing like what you describe.

    Nice camerawork, too. What lens do you use?

  •  Comment from TimelessEarth

    Giant groupers are being wiped out because
    of cyanide and the use of explosives for
    fishing on reefs. Their size and sluggish
    behavior also make them easy to hunt by
    spearfishing. Moves have been made to protect them in some areas, but some giant
    grouper species are struggling to survive.

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