Raja Ampat 2011

Hidden islands within islands: the discovery and conservation of unexplored marine lakes in Raja Ampat

The aim of this project is to discover, explore and protect marine lakes in the region of Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

Most of the marine lakes in Raja Ampat are surrounded by karstic hills and are not visible from the sea. Armed with aerial images taken from a Drifter water airplane, old Dutch maps, Google Earth images and GPS’s, we will hunt for these hidden marine lakes.

We will conduct a comprehensive scientific survey of the flora and fauna of marine lakes. By snorkeling and diving we will survey the lakes to determine if they resemble each other and their adjacent marine habitats. In parallel to this species assemblage survey, we will conduct molecular analyses to assess the level of genetic connectivity between lake and sea populations.

The uniqueness of these ecosystems warrants identifying existing and emerging threats, to initiate appropriate conservation measures before it is too late. Our aim is to provide the baseline of a long-term conservation strategy for these lakes.