Years ago, well before Raja Ampat became a marine protected area, it was a mecca for sharks. As a result of the devastating effects of shark finning, the shark population was decimated. Thanks to the protective measures from conservations groups, shark fishing and all other forms of commercial fishing have been banned within the marine protected area.
Despite the fact that sharks are slow reproducers, every year we are seeing more and more sharks. Every dive we encounter several of the larger grey reef sharks, black tips are prevalent in the whole area as well as white tips and everyones favorite, the wobbegongs ,which are everywhere on the northern parts! It’s not just the dives where we are encountering them either. Last week I jumped in on a bait ball thinking I would find a school small fish being bombarde by bonito, only to be greeted by two large grey reef sharks. This week while flying the drone I encountered a school of seven larger sharks aggressively feeding on another school of baitfish. Even in the six centimeter deep water of the beaches around Misool, Raja’s southern set of islands, dozens of tiny black tips patrol the shallows before entering the deep end.
As a photographer and as a diver it is absolutely motivating to witness first hand the benefits marine protected areas are for the the environment as a whole. Regenerating populations is a slow business but now that all species of sharks are protected in Raja, we are starting to see the signs that it will soon be the Mecca it used to be!
Mermaid II Raja Ampat Scuba Diving Cruise
Jan 27-Feb 4, 2017