Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #1 – the view from our ship’s upper deck before we headed out to the Zodiacs

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #1 – the view from our ship’s upper deck of the karst islands and islets in front of the “mainland” portion of New Guinea, — an island twice the size of California, USA — before we headed out to the Zodiacs

 

“Triton Bay is a small bay on the west side of the island of New Guinea, in the southern end of the peninsula known as the Bird’s Head.  This area was first “discovered” by the famous explorer Sir Thomas Ritchieford sometime around 1832.  It was not scientifically investigated until 2006, and what results did they find!  On the first expedition of scientists, at least 14 new species of fish were discovered, and 330 species of reef fish were found on one dive site alone.  That is amongst the highest in the world! … Triton Bay is a stunning landscape filled with karst topography.  Towering limestone pillars are undercut by the hard work of various invertebrates, making for an incredibly photogenic setting.” — https://www.expeditions.com/daily-expedition-reports/176647/

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #2

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #2

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #3

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #3

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #4

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #4

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #5

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #5

 

Triton Bay is a welcoming refuge on an otherwise foreboding coastline of New Guinea.   Part of the New Guinea mainland, the biological diversity again soars with Eclectus Parrots and Blythe’s Hornbills flying overhead.  We went on a long Zodiac cruise through the collection of limestone (karst) sculptures – islands and islets – that appear to be suspended over mirror flat water.  The karst formations festooned by drapes of vegetation are home to an array of wildlife.

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #6

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #6

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #7 – this is all one “leaf” from an indigenous plant that uses its “horn” to capture ants and other bugs

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #7 – this is all one “leaf” from an indigenous plant that uses its “horn” to capture ants and other bugs whose feces become nitrogen sources for the plant’s photosynthesis

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #8

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #8

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #9 – an isolated piece of rock art from about 3,000 years ago [see our previous blog post, “Rock Art (3,000 years old) at Misool, Raja Ampat]

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #9 – an isolated piece of rock art from about 3,000 years ago [see our previous blog post, “Rock Art (3,000 years old) at Misool, Raja Ampat (“The Four Kings”), Indonesia”]

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #10 – this is one of the fern-like plants that the Brontosaurus dinosaurs ate eons ago

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #10 – this is one of the fern-like plants that the Brontosaurus dinosaurs ate eons ago!

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #11 – these indigineous fruit are like winter apples and are edible, but a little sour, we were informed

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #11 – these indigenous fruit are like winter apples and are edible, but a little sour, we were informed

 

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #12 the Intrepid Explorer kayaking through Triton Bay

Zodiac cruise through the limestone (karst) sculptures of Triton Bay, New Guinea, Indonesia #12 the Intrepid Explorer kayaking through Triton Bay

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Rock Art (3,000 years old) at Misool, Raja Ampat (“The Four Kings”), Indonesia

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #1; the ocean surface was just below the horizontal band of rocks – the painted walls of the cliff, at one point long ago, were probably inside a cave that has since eroded

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #1; the ocean surface was just below the horizontal band of rocks – the painted walls of the cliff, at one point long ago, were probably inside a cave that has since eroded

 

On our Zodiac cruise of the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, one spectacular feature that our expedition team had given a lecture on was the 3,000 to 5,000-year old “rock art” on the cliffs (probably at one point the walls were part of caves that have since collapsed).  We weren’t sure if we would have time on the cruise to get to the distant island to see the rock art.  Fortunately, we extended the cruise and did get to the cliffs to see the ochre rock paintings (“petroglyphs”) that were amazingly well preserved.  Some observers have compared the Misool rock art to France’s much older (~17,000 years old) Lascaux Paleolithic cave paintings.  While there is no tradition of rock painting among the inhabitants of Raja Ampat, some speculate that the paintings were done by early visitors (ancient tribes) to the area, perhaps the Aborigines from Australia who went as far as Papua.

On the Internet we found a scholarly explanation and introduction to the Rock Art of Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia: “The development of human culture during the prehistoric era grew slowly over time.  However, after the transition from the Middle Palaeolithic period towards the Upper Palaeolithic, there was a creative explosion that was proven by the birth of the first art in the world (Lewis-William, 2002).  One such example of the first art in the world is a rock image sometimes termed rock art.  Rock art is defined as an art landscape consisting of images, motifs, and designs in the form of paintings or sculptures placed on natural and hard surfaces, such as large boulders, walls and ceilings of caves, cliff walls, and ground surfaces (Setiawan, 2015; Whitley, 2011).  These cultural products, which are identical to the advanced hunter-gatherer society (Pasaribu, 2016; Poesponegoro & Notosusanto, 2008; Howell, 1980), have become one of the archaeological phenomena that are gaining great attention in Indonesia.” — https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334130399_A_REFLECTION_OF_PAINTING_TRADITION_AND_CULTURE_OF_THE_AUSTRONESIAN_BASED_ON_THE_ROCK_ART_IN_MISOOL_RAJA_AMPAT_WEST_PAPUA

 

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #2

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #2

 

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #3

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #3

 

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #4--PHOTO --

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #4

 

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #5

Rock art at Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia (~3,000 years old) #5

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Cruising the Islands around Misool, Raja Ampat (“The Four Kings”), Indonesia

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #1

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #1

 

The last group of islands in Raja Ampat that we visited on the expedition was a day spent snorkeling, kayaking and Zodiac cruising around the islands of Misool, one of “The Four Kings” that are known as Raja Ampat.  Misool is another masterpiece of karst, whose rocks have been eroded by the ocean and rain into dazzling spires of limestone, unlike any of the previous scenery in Raja Ampat.  The formations are so steep and awe inspiring that the area has been named “Thousands of Temples.”

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #2

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #2

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #3

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #3

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #4

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #4

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #5

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #5

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #6

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #6

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #7

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #7

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #8

PHOTO Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #8

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #9

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #9

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #10

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #10

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #11

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #11

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #12

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #12

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #13

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #13

 

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #14

Cruising the islands around Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #14

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Cruising the Lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat (“The Four Kings”), Indonesia

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #1; at the channel entrance to the lagoon we turned off the engine on our Zodiac and drifted in on the current

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #1; at the channel entrance to the lagoon we turned off the engine on our Zodiac and drifted in on the current

 

South of the equator, we visited another uninhabited paradise area of Raja Ampat, the Boo Islands.  The island group is unique in that each one features a beautiful lagoon at its center. At noon we took Zodiacs to Pulau Taudore and its beautiful white sand beach.  On the island, our restaurant team set up umbrellas and tables for us to enjoy a beach BBQ (with charcoal grills brought ashore for grilling the local blue fin tuna, chicken, steaks and hot dogs).  After lunch, most of us jumped in the water and had a chance to cool off and even do some snorkeling just offshore.  In the late afternoon we did a Zodiac cruise of the shallow water blue lagoon of Boo Kecil, where these photographs were taken.  For the ride in, we shut off he Zodiac engine and coasted in on a 3-4 knot current, turning the engine on once we were well inside the lagoon where we checked out the fishing huts.

 

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #2; a small fishing hut in the channel entrance to the lagoon

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #2; a small fishing hut in the channel entrance to the lagoon

 

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #3; mangrove trees lined the channel into the lagoon

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #3; mangrove trees lined the channel into the lagoon

 

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia_

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #4; the roots of the mangroves are visible out of the water in the channel

 

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #5

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #5

 

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #6; a close up of the fishing hut in the center of the lagoon, owned by fishermen from an island about 20 miles (32 km) away

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #6; a close up of the fishing hut in the center of the lagoon, owned by fishermen from an island about 20 miles (32 km) away

 

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #7

Cruising the lagoon of Boo Kecil Island, Boo Islands, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #7; leaving the lagoon about an hour before sunset

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

King Neptune Initiates Pollywogs at the Equator, Kawe, Raja Ampat (“The Four Kings”), Indonesia

The uninhabited island of Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, boasts a unique geographical location in that it straddles the equator (zero latitude)

The uninhabited island of Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, boasts a unique geographical location in that it straddles the equator (zero latitude)

 

The uninhabited island of Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, boasts a unique geographical location in that it straddles the equator (zero latitude).  Its highly dissected coastline forms deep bays with long fringing reefs that are perfect for kayakers, SCUBA divers and snorkelers to enjoy.

 

The Indonesian government in 2014 erected this monument at Kawe to mark the location of the equator (zero latitude), Raja Ampat, Indonesia

The Indonesian government in 2014 erected this monument at Kawe to mark the location of the equator (zero latitude), Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

The equator is an imaginary line around the middle of the earth.  It is halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole, at zero (0) degrees latitude — 0° 0′ 0”.  The equator divides the planet into the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. The Earth is widest at its Equator, which means that along the equator the distance from the surface of the earth to the center of the earth is longer than from any other location on the planet.

 

A close up of the equator monument, Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

A close up of the equator monument, Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Residents & guests on our ship who were crossing the equator for the first time were inducted into a time-honored shipboard tradition where those who have already crossed the line — (trusty) Shellbacks, or “Sons of Neptune” — must initiate those who have yet to cross — (slimy) Pollywogs.  Our initiation was led by King Neptune, the (Roman) God of the Sea, who emerged from the ocean to walk ashore, assume his throne, and then lead the initiation.

 

King Neptune’s court – standing by his throne, on the beach, summoning him from the sea to lead the initiation of the Pollywogs, Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

King Neptune’s court – standing by his throne, on the beach, summoning him from the sea to lead the initiation of the Pollywogs, Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

King Neptune emerges from the sea to lead the initiation of the Pollywogs, Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

King Neptune emerges from the sea to lead the initiation of the Pollywogs, Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Our initiation was milder that those of yesteryear in the British and American Navies!  King Neptune’s assistant had each Pollywog, kneeling in the sand facing the sea, kiss a dead fish, then drink sea water handed out by King Neptune, and then be anointed with sea water.

 

King Neptune at his throne, calling all slimy Pollywogs to the area for their initiation, Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

King Neptune at his throne, calling all slimy Pollywogs to the area for their initiation, Kawe, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Wayag, Raja Ampat (“The Four Kings”), Indonesia

Our ship at Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, nestled between forested karst islets that are the poster image for the region

Our ship at Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, nestled between forested karst islets that are the poster image for the region

 

At Wayag, visitors experience some of the most iconic scenery Raja Ampat has to offer.  This labyrinth of karst islets is the poster image for the entire region.  Given that Wayag is a microcosm of Raja Ampat as a whole, we had a very full day of exploration in and around the forested limestone peaks that bejewel a turquoise lagoon – with Zodiac cruising to explore the terrain and then SCUBA diving and snorkeling in the protected lagoons (sorry, your blogger doesn’t have an underwater camera, so no underwater photographs).

 

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #2; our Zodiac cruising took us through the labyrinth of karst islets

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #2; our Zodiac cruising took us through the labyrinth of karst islets

 

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #3

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #3

 

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #4; a few of the islands had enough erosion through the eons to have white sandy beaches

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #4; a few of the islands had enough erosion through the eons to have white sandy beaches

 

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #5; the “mushroom” islet

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #5; the “mushroom” islet

 

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #6

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #6

 

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #7; the “Three Sisters” (some were arguing for the name “Three Brothers”…)

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #7; the “Three Sisters” (some were arguing for the name “Three Brothers”…)

 

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #8; below the surface, the lagoons host spectacular coral reefs and an abundance of fish and reef invertebrates (note that 97% of the animal kingdom are invertebrates!)

Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia #8; below the surface, the lagoons host spectacular coral reefs and an abundance of fish and reef invertebrates (note that 97% of the animal kingdom are invertebrates!)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Kri Island, Raja Ampat (“The Four Kings”), Indonesia

The Raja Ampat Islands are an Indonesian archipelago of over 1,500 islands off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

The Raja Ampat Islands are an Indonesian archipelago of over 1,500 islands off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

When we started this expedition, in contrast to our original itinerary plans of three years ago (our schedule is set that far in advance!) which called for us to visit Raja Ampat, the SCUBA diving and snorkeling jewels (islands) of eastern Indonesia, we expected to be mostly cruising in far eastern Indonesia, particularly around West Papua.  The change in plans was due to new major restrictions on passenger ships visiting Raja Ampat after an accident in the area two years ago when a cruise ship ran aground on a reef.  We were super fortunate that our expedition team, captain and staff persisted with appropriate Indonesian government agencies and on arrival in Raja Ampat, following a lengthy ship inspection and interviews with the crew and expedition team, we received permission for a four-day visit to Raja Ampat.

 

Located within the “Coral Triangle”, Raja Ampat is home to the richest marine biodiversity in the world; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Located within the “Coral Triangle”, Raja Ampat is home to the richest marine biodiversity in the world; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Raja Ampat translates into “The Four Kings” and refers to a myth about the creation of the four main islands.  The Raja Ampat Islands are an Indonesian archipelago of over 1,500 islands off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua.  Comprising hundreds of jungle-covered islands, Raja Ampat is known for its beaches and coral reefs rich with marine life.  Ancient rock paintings and caves are on Misool Island, while the crimson bird of paradise lives on Waigeo Island.  Batanta and Salawati are the archipelago’s other main islands.  Located within the “Coral Triangle”, Raja Ampat is home to the richest marine biodiversity in the world.

 

The limestone karst islands and islets are heavily forested; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

The limestone karst islands and islets are heavily forested; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Comprising hundreds of jungle-covered islands, Raja Ampat is known for its beaches and coral reefs rich with marine life; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia – the ship is owned by local Indonesians and serves as an overnight dive boat

Comprising hundreds of jungle-covered islands, Raja Ampat is known for its beaches and coral reefs rich with marine life; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia – the ship is owned by local Indonesians and serves as an overnight dive boat for up to 20 guests

 

According to a report developed by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, around 75% of the world’s species live in Raja Ampat!  Raja Ampat’s sheer numbers and diversity of marine life and its huge pristine coral reef systems are a SCUBA dream come true – and a fantastic site for snorkelers too.

 

Hidden behind the vegetation, including mangrove trees, is a small B&B cottage; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Hidden behind the vegetation, including mangrove trees, is a small B&B cottage; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

At the end of the island we visited were three cottages built on stilts; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

At the end of the island we visited were three cottages built on stilts; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Each of the cottages rent for about US$20 per night – affordable paradise!; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Each of the cottages rent for about US$20 per night – affordable paradise!; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.