Raja Ampat is apart of the greater Bird’s Head Seascape region, which also includes Cenderwasi Bay and Triton Bay. Raja Ampat however hosts the largest biodiversity of reef fish species and coral in the world. Raja Ampat alone is home to over fifteen-hundred different species of fish and a large variety of sharks and rays, including wobbegong sharks, oceanic manta rays as well as the reef manta rays. With so many different marine animals going about their daily lives, there is no telling what sort of unique behavior you will witness while diving in the world renown water of the Raja Ampat.
This past trip with Mermaid II we were treated with some pretty phenomenal and highly unique behavior. The trip started off with some outstanding cephalopod action when we encountereted a giant reef octopus slinking across the reef tops as it hunted for food. If you’v ever seen an octopus hunting, you’ll know just how special this encounter is. The color of their skin pulses with changing colors and even changes textures. It’s tentacles seemingly work together as they probe the nooks and crannies of the reef as it searches for its prey. Once it’s cornered it’s next meal, it’s forms an impenetrable tent with its tentacles around the coral head where the prey is hiding. The frightened animal will eventually try to escape and swim straight into the impassible tentacle wall.
Later on during the trip we were treated to a special and symbiotic relationship between tiny butterfly fish and even tinier cleaner wrases as they chased the much much larger reef mantas around. The mantas comes to these special cleaning stations to have the many parasites they pick up on their ocean voyages picked off by the eager fish. On night dives we were able to spot a pair of frog fish going about their courting routine which basically consisted of the much smaller male chasing and clearly bother the larger female until she became cornered in the reef and gave up. One of the most special encounters the guests aboard Mermaid II witnesses was a pair of mating wobbegong sharks. While wobbegons are found on almost every sight in the norther part of Raja, their mating behavior is not so regular as it happens only a few times a year.
No matter what time of year or what region of Raja you dive, you’re if for a real surprise. Alot of behavior can be predicted and we try to schedule our dives to witness certain behavior, such as cleaning mantas. However, some of the behavior just straight up surprises with so many different species packed into one region! Never a dull moment diving in Raja Ampat.
Mermaid II, Raja Ampat Diving Cruise
February 5-13, 2018