Paradise Archipelago in East of Indonesia - Dive Indonesia
The archipelago around Sulawesi and Borneo has been described as an ecological ‘hot spot’. East of Indonesia Archipelago have much terrain varied, from walls and fringing reef to caverns, big Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas), whitetip, leopard and nurse sharks, schooling barracudas, napoleon wrasses, cuttle fish, Spanish mackerel, jacks and batfishes, and ornamentalreef fishes hang out in record densities and diversity. If the sea has a heart, it lies somewhere in the dynamic mosaic that is the Indonesian archipelago.
In this biological hot zone, there are more coral and fish species than anywhere else on Earth. The numbers are staggering: for instance, Indonesia has 83 species of angelfish and butterflyfish, while the whole of the Caribbean supports just seven of each. This diversity is celebrated in The Sulu-Sulawesi Seas, a new photo-book by German photo-journalist Jürgen Freund. Part of a conservation initiative by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the book focuses on the area around Sulawesi, Borneo and the southern Philippines – the epicentre of the hot zone. This is a world where schools of jacks group into seething tornadoes over reef drop-offs, where tiny porcelain crabs seek refuge among the swaying tentacles of a host anemone. Stray from the reefs into a mangrove swamp and you are just as likely to run into a saltwater crocodile, the mightiest of the reptiles.
This region, referred to often as the ‘coral triangle’ or the ‘East-Indies Triangle’, encompasses three nations and an area of complex oceanography. All the islands have narrow continental shelves and many are separated from each other by relatively deep waters. Surface currents flow permanently eastwards along the north coast of Sulawesi and southwards along the west coast. To the south of the island there is a strong east-flowing current during the northeast monsoon, which is reversed during the southeast monsoon. Conditions are ideal for reef development and there are fringing reefs along the shores of most of the smaller islands, and some continuous stretches running for hundreds of miles along the coastline.
It doesn’t take an expert to see that this is a special place: if you were to do a dive on a Sulawesi reef, then jet off to anywhere in, say, the tropical western Atlantic, the difference would be immediately noticeable. For years, photographers have said that the reefs of the Caribbean are like English gardens compared with the marine jungles of Southeast Asia. For divers, it’s down to the ease of finding certain exotic creatures. The highly cryptic leaf scorpionfish, for instance, can be found all over the Indo-Pacific, but in most places no one bothers to look over areas of exposed coral (their preferred habitat) for suspiciously leafy objects. When you’re in the coral triangle, it’s always worthwhile looking around for semi-disguised creatures. And if you’re observant enough to find one leaf scorpionfish, there are usually others nearby.