Monday, February 20, 2012

Indonesia: The art of abundance and unusual creatures

This is the first of a series of pictures from the Indonesia. Keith Ellenbogen, a photographer and frequent contributor to the Global Explorers Blog, is sharing pictures from the expedition with Conservation International (CI) and the Ocean Health Index to create an awareness about environmental threats and solutions that impact the relationship between people and the sea. 

For the second part of the Ocean Health Index assignment I travelled to Raja Ampat, Indonesia, one of the worlds most beautiful places with extraordinary diversity of marine life. Traveling by boat within this remote part of the world, I was immediately captivated by the topography and geological structures such as that of the “bee hive” shaped Karst Islands. 

An over under view of a small islands called "Bee Hive" Karst Islands with healthy abundance of hard corals
The region is biodiverse and teaming with life. From a photographic point of view the colors, patterns and textures are inspiring. One of my favorite times to dive is when the morning light descends beneath the surface and the activity within the reef begins to awake. One of the schooling fish I enjoyed photographing was fusilers. They are both beautiful as well as an important part of what makes Raja Ampat so biodiverse.

School of fusilers swimming over soft coral with the suns rays descending into the sea 

These schooling fish feed on the abundance of plankton and nutrient rich waters caused by the convergence of the Pacific and Indian Ocean in this region. These fish are also important within the lifecycle of the reef as big fish eat little fish.

Epaulette shark (Hemiscyillum freycineti), that "walks"

A bouquet of tunicates, a tunicate covering a tunicate

But what makes Raja Ampat so special is that the diversity of life in this region is almost unimaginable. I was particularly captivated by the Epaulette shark that "walks" over the coral reef at night as well colorful tunicates that amazingly were growing on other tunicates. (Learn about the epaulette sharks in the Aquarium's touch tank here!)

Damselfish (Chromis athena) - First live picture of this species

On a personal note one of the most extraordinary parts of this trip was working with Mark Erdman, CI Senior Marine Scientist. On this expedition, we discovered new species of corals and fish as well as captured images of fish that are rarely or never been photographed before.  There is much we don’t know about the sea and so much to learn and be inspired by.

A close-up image of the coral polyps within a Gorgonian sea fan

To learn more about the first part of his trip to the Turtle Islands, click here. Head over to Conservation International's blog for more pictures and perspectives from Keith. 

Aquarium explorers traveled to Raja Ampat in 2011. Dive further into this beautiful part of the marine world through the expedition's blog posts.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting these photos. :) Even I'm Indonesia, I don't know much about such beautiful place in Indonesia. Our local television are rarely to report such information.*sad*