The wildlife of Raja Ampat

The Raja Ampat area has over 600 types of hard corals, comprising approximately 75% of known global coral species. It also houses more than 1,700 varieties of reef fish thriving in both shallow and deep reefs. In comparison to ecosystems of similar size worldwide, Raja Ampat showcases the richest biodiversity. Endangered and scarce marine mammals, including dugongs, various whale species such as blue whales, pygmy blue whales, Bryde’s whales, lesser-known Omura’s whales, sperm whales, dolphins, and orcas, can be found in this region.

But, Raja Ampat’s wonder is not only underwater. Raja Ampat comprises nine distinct terrestrial habitats across its four main islands, home of a diverse range of endemic flora and fauna that remain preserved and naturally thriving. This significant aspect results in over fifty percent of Raja Ampat being designated as conservation areas.

The terrestrial biodiversity of Raja Ampat includes approximately 874 plant species, with nine being unique to the region and six under protective status, including 360 tree species. There are also 114 herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) species, among which five are endemic and five are protected. The region also hosts 47 mammal species, with one being endemic and three under protection. Furthermore, there are 274 bird species, six of which are unique to the area and eight are classified under protection. Of course this last one includes several species of Birds of Paradise! 

The wildlife of Raja Ampat
Misool Wildlife


Misool is home of the recorded 1,700 fish species in Raja Ampat, many of which are exclusive to the Misool area. Especially on the South East Island chain of Misool, the karst landscape creates a seemingly endless amount of limestone protected lagoons. Combined with healthy mangrove habitats, many coral ecosystems are very protected and well hidden.

Misool’s main Island is also surprisingly an unexplored terrestrial habitat. Its tropical rainforest is teeming with seemingly endless varieties of Birds feeding on the generous fruits, seeds, and insects provided by the jungle.  Like in the main Island of Papua/New Guinea, there are marsupials like the brown forest wallabies, sugar gliders, and couscous. There are also wild boars that the local Matbat hunters usually hunt.

Misool is also a paradise for bird watchers. Any of the three, Lesser, Magnificent or King Bird-of-Paradise is obviously the ones people really wanted a glimpse of. But there are so many other birds that are also an indicator on the health of the forest ecosystem in terrestrial Misool. Examples that you could see in the forest are hornbills and 15 species of parrots like cockatoo, lory and many more. On the sea you will meet frigate birds, sea eagles, kites, egrets, kingfishers and many more.

What sets Misool apart

What also sets Misool completely apart from its ’sisters islands’ in the North Raja Ampat is the lack of marine lakes hidden in the karst islands. Marine lakes (also known as anchialine lakes) are landlocked bodies of water that are still connected with the sea from a tunnel or a crack in the ground. So far there are more or less 200 marine lakes known in the world, and in Misool alone 30 have been observed. What is more remarkable for Misool is that at least 6 of these marine lakes are jellyfish lakes. These are even rarer, as there are confirmed 13 jellyfish lakes known in the world.

Misool is also a place for good news in nature conservation stories. This place witnessed a rebound of coral and marine ecological health. The robust health of Misool’s coral reefs, with coral disease and bleaching accounting for less than 1%, can be attributed to various factors. One key reason is the designation of the region as a ‘No-Take-Zone’ covering an area of 828 square kilometers, where fishing activities are prohibited. Another contributing factor is Misool’s proximity to the Seram Sea, allowing nutrient-rich deep waters to flow through the nutrient-rich current called the Seram Throughflow.

What sets Misool apart
Geological Wonders Of Misool

Geological Wonders Of Misool

While the underwater world of Misool is well-known, its geological wonders often remain under-appreciated. In this article below, we delve into the geology of Misool, unveiling the fascinating geological history that has shaped this unique part of the world.

Formation and Tectonic Setting
Misool is part of the larger Raja Ampat Islands, situated in the westernmost region of the province of West Papua. Geologically, this area belongs to the New Guinea orogen, characterized by complex tectonic activity resulting from the convergence of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates.

Roughly 250 million years ago, the supercontinent of Pangaea began to break apart, initiating the opening of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean. As the Australian plate drifted northward, it collided with the Pacific plate, leading to intense subduction and subsequent uplift of the rocks that now form the Misool region. These tectonic forces have played a significant role in shaping the diverse geological features we observe today.

Rock Formations and underground rivers

Rock Formations
The geological composition of Misool primarily consists of limestone and related sedimentary rocks. These rocks are the result of the accumulation of marine sediments over millions of years. Limestone, characterized by its light color and calcium carbonate composition, dominates the landscapes of Misool and gives rise to the iconic karst formations that dot the island.

Karst Landscapes
The karst landscapes of Misool are undoubtedly one of its most awe-inspiring geological features. These unique formations have been shaped through a combination of chemical weathering, dissolution, and erosion processes acting upon the limestone. Over time, the mildly acidic rainwater seeping into the rock dissolves the calcium carbonate, creating sinkholes, caves, and underground rivers. The exposed limestone towers and cliffs, often towering above the turquoise waters, are a testament to the ceaseless work of water over millions of years.

Caves and Underground Rivers
Misool is also home to an extensive network of caves and underground rivers, providing a glimpse into the hidden world beneath the surface. These caves, formed through the dissolution of limestone, offer a haven for diverse ecosystems, including unique species of bats and other cave-dwelling creatures. Some of the notable caves in Misool are Gua Keramat and Gua Putri Termenung.

Rock Formations and underground rivers misool