If I were a coral I would like to live in Raja Ampat. I like it busy and diverse. We are around 600 species here and represent 75% of the coral world population. I could find all my sibling species that have been here for thousands of years. It takes us a long time to grow, (some studies say that 1.74 cm per year) so imagine how old we are when we are a two-meter gorgonian soft coral and some corals might be as old as a thousand years. As I like the melting pot, we would be living with all different races, all colors, coming and growing from all over and I could even host some pygmy seahorses. A lot of fish come to hide between my branches. Even though I would have to be cautious, as I could be on the menu of bumphead parrotfish or even turtles feeding on my cousins the sponges.
If I were a fish I would like to live in Raja Ampat, with all anemone fishes that can even choose their anemone. I could feed on schools of anchovies, wrasses, but I would have to be careful with the barracudas, the giant trevally’s and the groupers that might have a bite on me.
We have to cope with a lot of difficulties: cyclones, earthquakes, tidal waves, warming waters and dynamite fishing.
If I were a human being, I would like to tell the people to protect the species, to protect the reefs. They are so damaged all over the world and the fish population is so endangered. I would like to show my kids that the whole marine ecosystem is still alive and will there for their children as well.
If I were a kid I would not like to see the reefs in a history book. I would not like to ask my parents: why didn’t you do anything to protect the reefs.
Healthy reefs are a key to have a sustainable ecosystem.
We had great conversations with the inspiring Misool Eco Resort (www.misoolecoresort.com ), who is working on marine conservation. Where there was a shark finning camp killing hundreds of sharks some years ago, they created an ecoresort. The fishes now see cameras instead of hooks and dynamite. The fishermen are oriented to tourism. It is always hard to find a balance.
If I was on Lumbaz I could only be thankful to have spent more than 6 weeks in Raja Ampat; thankful to see all this beauty, to learn more about the marine life and to be in front of this astonishing nature, to have been able to snorkel and dive amongst these beautiful reefs.
We owe you something!