Raja Ampat's
Nature

A global biodiversity hotspot

From the jungles to the reefs: the complete guide to Raja Ampat’s nature. The archipelago's ecological riches make it a worldwide unique place.

One of natures wonders

Wherever you look, life explodes into a miraculous world of form and colour. From the curiosities roaming the pristine rainforests to the countless creatures inhabiting the vivid reefs, the archipelago truly bursts with life.

Marine Life in Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat’s unique marine ecosystem is home to the world’s highest biodiversity.

The diversity in this rich archipelago is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the coral triangle. Raja Ampat's reefs are not only incredibely diverse, but also very resilient to bleaching and other diseases. They form the stable base, on which the islands' entire marine ecosystem builds upon.

The high marine diversity in Raja Ampat is strongly influenced by its position.

Forming a relatively narrow channel between the Pacific and the Indian ocean, unimaginable masses of water are forced through the archipelago with every change of tides. This not only is a steady supply of nutrient-rich water, but also distributes fish and coral larvae between the two oceans.

Fish

Fantastic Diversity

A staggering 1.400 species of reef fish have been identified in Raja Ampat, with estimates going as high as 1.700 different kinds. At least 23 of the fish species found here are endemic, including species of walking shark, flasher wrasse, damselfish, coral goby, cardinal fish and dottyback.

Incredible Numbers

Raja Ampat is not only an epicenter of diversity, but fish appear in vast numbers. Nutrient-rich currents lead enormous shoals to congregate in the relatively shallow waters. Megafauna — including sharks and mantas — is quite common in the archipelago's tropical waters.

Marine Reptiles

A Paradise for Turtles

At least 4 of the worldwide 7 species of sea turtles are present in Raja Ampat. While Leatherback and Olive Ridley turtles are rare sights, Hawksbill and Green turtles are very numerous. They play a vital role in the ecosystem, feeding on sponges and algae respectively.

Not Everyone's Favourites

Various sea snakes, like the banded sea krait, patrol the reefs and hunt for small fish. Other — more impressive — inhabitants of Raja Ampat are the saltwater crocodiles. These prehistoric creatures can grow more than 6 meters long and weigh over a ton.

Marine Mammals

Whales & Dolphins

A total of 16 different species of whales and dolphins can be found in Raja Ampat. Besides the impressive blue, sperm and orca whales, there are white dolphins, pygmy whales and enormous pods of pilot whales to be ancountered in the archipelago.

Dugongs: Raja Ampat's Mermaids

With a bit of luck, another rare creature — the dugong — can be encountered throughout Raja Ampat, and especially around Batanta. These gentle animals are often found feasting on seagrass beds where, when carefully approached, they usually don't mind snorkellers.

Molluscs & Crustaceans

Wherever You Look

Raja Ampat is home to 700 different kinds of molluscs and 600 different kinds of crusteceans. They can be found occupying every type of environment, from the mangrove swamps to the most vibrant reefs.

Variety of Form & Colour

Stunning nudibranchs as well as fascinating shrimps and crabs appear in all shapes and colours. 47 species of mantis shrimp, 7 kinds of giant clam and various species of Cephalopoda, including the blue-ringed octopus, can all be encountered in Raja Ampat.

Coral

World's Highest Coral Diversity

More than 600 different kinds of coral form the base structure of Raja Ampat’s lush reefs - that’s 75% of all the known coral species in the world. It is estimated that at least 20 of them are new to science, which are currently being surveyed.

The Base of the Ecosystem

The archipelago’s coral abundance at relatively high sea temperature suggests - and is backed by recent studies - that its reefs may be relatively resilient to coral bleaching and coral disease, which now threaten the survival of other coral ecosystems around the world.


Terrestrial Life in Raja Ampat

Isolation was the driving factor behind the evolution of Raja Ampat’s creatures.

The absence of large predators allowed numerous life forms to develop characteristics unseen in other parts of the world. Being a paradise for birds, the islands are almost sacral to ornithologists. However, some of the archipelago’s inhabitants are specifically adapted to their unique environment and therefore very sensible to change.

Raja Ampat's lush forests offer a unique experience for anyone who dares to venture into them.

Exploring Raja Ampat's tropical rainforests is often rewarded with unique sights like the Birds-of-Paradise, Sugar Gliders or mushrooms, that glow in the dark. The pristine jungle bursts with life and trekking through the tropical vegetation can be adventurous and calming at the same time.

Flora

Enchanted Jungle

Raja Ampat’s tropical rainforests are made up of an immense variety of plants, many of which can be found nowhere else. The jungles vary from very wet to moderately dry, depending on the island. From enormous trees to tiny orchids - the rainforest is a magical place.

Delightful Flowers & other Fascinating Plants

The vivid orchids are probably most striking in terms of appearance. More than 200 distinctive species can be found in Raja Ampat. Another interesting group of plants are the carnivorous pitcher plants, with at least three endemic species in the archipelago.

Amphibians

Small but Noteworthy

The amphibious creatures of Raja Ampat have received far less attention from the scientific community than other animal families. However, there is a strong presence of frogs on the larger islands and the dense jungles still hold one or the other secret.

Nightly Concerts

In 2015 a study carried out by Steve Richards and his team identified two new species of narrow-mouthed frogs by tracking their night calls. One of them turned out to be a hermaphrodite, while the other one represents the first record of the genus Cophixalus in Misool.

Mammals

A Marsupial Realm

With the exception of bats, all the endemic mammal species in Raja Ampat are marsupials. Boars, dogs, rats and some other mammals, that are nowadays commonly found throughout the archipelago, were brought by humans.

Interesting Creatures

Nevertheless, there are quite a few curious creatures to be found in Raja Ampat: different species of cuscus (including an endemic one), bandicoot and sugar glider. A real curiosity is the echidna, one of just a handful egg-laying mammals in existence.

Arthropods

The Insect Kingdom

Raja Ampat's islands are inhabited by a huge variety of insects, many of which are spectacular in their appearance. From vibrant butterflies with the wingspan of small birds to iridescent beetles, the jungle is full of magnificent creatures.

Other Arthropods

Other arthropods, like spiders and even the rare coconut crab can be found throughout the archipelago. On remote islands, and given enough time, the coconut crab can grow up to an impressive size weighing up to 3 kg.

Reptiles

The Ideal Climate

Raja Ampat is inhabited by numerous reptile species. Most reptiles can be found on the larger islands, where the dense jungle makes for an ideal habitat. Due to the tropical climate and relatively high temperatures all year long, reptiles strive in this environment.

Common throughout Raja Ampat

Monitor lizards, such as the endemic Golden Speckled Tree Monitor, and various pythons are quite common — especially on Waigeo island. However, other species of reptiles, especially lizards, skinks and snakes, are no rare sight throughout Raja Ampat either.

Birds

A Paradise for Birds

More than 350 bird species can be observed in Raja Ampat, six of which are endemic to the archipelago. Many of the birds inhabiting the islands are rare sights anywhere else and the region has become famous among ornithologists all over the world.

Birds of Paradise

The colourful Wilson’s and the enchanting Red Bird of Paradise are just two examples of the wonderful feathered life forms living on the tropical islands. On the larger islands delightful Crowned Pigeons and flightless Cassowaries roam the dense jungle.

Fungi & Lichen

Easy to Overlook

Lichen and fungi are present all over Raja Ampat, but their preferred habitats are the dense and wet rainforests of the larger islands like Waigeo and Batanta. While these might not be the most impressive organisms, they play a vital role in the ecosystem.

Glowing Mushrooms

A species worth mentioning is Mycena Chlorophos. By day this inconspicuous mushroom is easily overlooked, by night however, they transform the jungle into a magical place. Being bioluminescent, they emit a pale green light - like out of a fairy tale.

Marine Life
Fish
Marine Reptiles
Marine Mammals
Molluscs & Crustaceans
Coral
Terrestrial Life
Flora
Amphibians
Mammals
Arthropods
Reptiles
Birds
Fungi & Lichen