West Papuans state that the province they call home is “a piece of heaven that fell to Earth”. It’s quite true since West Papua is known as one of the highest centers of biodiversity on earth. Its location in the heart of the world coral triangle is one of the reasons.
The data from Conservation International (CI) states that around 75 percent of all hard-coral species in the world are found in the waters of this province, with more than a thousand types of reef fish and 700 types of mollusks.
Let’s take a closer look to get to know West Papua’s biodiversity!
Epicenter of The Diversity in World’s Ocean
It can be said that West Papua is the epicenter of the “hot spot” of diversity in the world’s ocean. Its ocean waters host more types of fish and coral than anywhere else on the planet—more than 1,700 fish and more than 600 hard corals. In other words, it’s equivalent to 75 percent of all the species described.
Its complex ocean currents form a rich habitat assemblage of limestone islands and connect the area to the wider Indo-Pacific. It’s carrying marine life to and from coral reefs, rivers that distribute wealth across the ocean. From transparent commensal shrimp cling tightly and yellow sea anemone swing. It’s a home for batfish, banded travallies, silversides, and barracudas hover between locations as they glow in the filtered light; gigantic manta rays appear suddenly at certain intervals.
The World’s Greatest Mangrove Forest
On the border between land and sea, the world’s largest mangrove forest emerges from shallow bays. It can be said that this forest is kind of the unsung hero of species diversity and climate regulation.
If you stand beneath the mangroves for even a few minutes, you can watch the trees absorb carbon from the air as their leaves fall and sink into the sea. Below, you can see the nursery hidden in the mangrove’s roots.
Juvenile fish of all species find the roots of mangrove as refuge with perfectly crafted maze, shielded from current, predators, and storms. Acts like a heart, mangroves also filter ground runoff—the most direct threat to abundant coral reefs.
The rainforests of West Papua is considered as one of the largest intact rainforests on Earth. That’s why, even for a short walk into the rainforest, it will require a machete. The forest is overgrown with thousands of plant species, all intertwined in an almost impenetrable tangle.
It definitely overwhelms the senses. However, it perhaps the most powerful are the sounds of the forest: the chattering and buzzing of insects; the overlapping calls of hundreds of bird species; tree frog chorus.
The wilderness is dripping with life. Hidden below, amazing aliens—birds of paradise—carefully guard the secret dance floor, turning themselves into fictional creatures in the throes of their passions.
To visit this destination is a definitely pilgrimage. Regularly, new species are discovered throughout the vast centers of life on Earth. Hill to coral, West Papua is a crown jewel of vital biodiversity.
The Exquisite Sea
Raja Ampat is one of the most remarkable marine conservation success stories to date. Constructing on centuries of traditional conservation, organizations led by Conservation International (CI) have worked with local leaders and local governments for more than a decade to promote the creation of seven major MPAs—marine protected areas. With careful management, the MPA has experienced a remarkable recovery, including a 300 to 600 percent increase in fish numbers and sizes and a 2,500 percent increase in the total number of sharks.
West Papua, an Indonesian province, is one of the most biologically important on the planet. It is also least explored among places in the world.
Containing over 1,700 fish species, at least 700 bird species living in some of the largest remaining mangroves and rainforests, and three quarters of the world’s hard corals, it has been hailed as one of the last major biodiversity hotspots on Earth.