• Where is highest marine biodiversity in the world? In Raja Ampat, Indonesia!
  • Why are the reefs still so healthy? That’s exactly what we want to find out.
  • I hear it’s a great place to go on vacation? You’re not the only one. We want to study the effect of tourism on the reefs below water and the villages above water.

Goal of the expedition

With a diverse team of scientists, teachers, conservationists from Indonesia and the Netherlands we will collect local knowledge and ecological measurements to map out future scenarios for one of the richest reefs in the world, Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

The area is a top priority for conservation. At the same time, the area is being highly promoted for national and international tourism. Can the two go together? We want to understand how the richest reefs of the world can stay resilient to climate change under increasing pressure from tourism. We’re going to study the social-ecological-system, where we take an approach that explicitly links the resilience of ecosystems to governance structures, economies and society.

Expedition participants

Six Wageningen University & Research scientists are sailing along on this floating university: Lisa Becking (Marine Animal Ecology & Wageningen Marine Research), Ingrid van de Leemput (Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management), Machiel Lamers (Environmental Policy), Erik Meesters (Wageningen Marine Research), Ludi Aji (Marine Animal Ecology), and Ery Admodjo (Environmental Policy). Also joining us will be Erik Horstman (UTwente), Awaludinnoer Ahmad (The Nature Conservancy Indonesia), Ricardo Tapilatu (Universitas Papua), Elvis (Raja Ampat Regency Ranger, UPTD BLUD) and Eva van den Broek (Behavioural Insights).

They’re going to some remote locations, so whenever they have enough internet they will share their observations and insights on this blog!

Holistic perspective

Lisa Becking leads the expedition by boat. “After years in the field,” the marine biologist says, “I have come to a better understanding that the conservation of coral reef ecosystems depends as much on ecological and evolutionary processes underwater, as on socio-economic processes above the water level. And that these different processes are intertwined.”

View our website: http://marinelakes.com/

Or follow Lisa on Twitter: @beckinglisa

How to measure trust

28 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

Smoked, dried seacucumbers are ‘the gold from the sea’ in Papua. They do not look the part: they resemble black crumpled socks and taste like old clams. But the Chinese use them as a medicine to speed up recovery from surgery. So Papuans harvest the sea cucumbers not for eating…

Learning across disciplines

28 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

The guide is carefully steering the dinghy towards the mangrove-covered shore. His assistant stands in the front on the lookout. The last few meters he carefully pushes it towards the mangrove using his pole while avoiding the corals. We are doing some water quality measurements with the students at different…

Jack & Jelly

27 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

Imagine jumping into a lake full of jellyfish, sounds crazy right? That’s what we got to do today! Lisa got to show us one of ‘her’ Jellyfish lakes, Lake Lenmakana. This lake is a marine lake, which means it is a brackish lake that is isolated from the surrounding sea….

Beauty studios under water

Beauty studios for manta rays
27 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

Manta rays are fascinating creatures. Seeing them in their habitat is like encountering giant aliens in space. Tourists and scientists are obsessed with these stealth flying objects. And for a good reason: manta rays hunt in groups and require grooming service at specialized ‘cleaning stations’ on the reef. They depend on the natural state of the reef. Blog…

Mangrove magic

22 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

While my colleagues ventured around Arborek yesterday to talk to local orang orang, I explored the mangroves around the fringes of this tiny island village. I first spotted a small patch of established mangroves, and then I found out that there were plenty of younger trees around, mostly growing in straight lines along the beach. Obviously, these mangroves have been planted…

Exclusive eco-tourism?

22 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

Today we arrived in Misool after sailing through the night. We woke up with a stunning sunrise, and a magnificent view on many green islands, randomly distributed in the ocean. In comparison with Dampier we see much fewer liveaboards and no homestays. However, we turn out to be anchored in…

Tourism on Arborek

Tourism in Arborek
21 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

I am standing on our ship, gazing at a small dot of green in the middle of a blue ocean. As the dot becomes bigger and the details become clear, our curiosity grows. We have arrived at Arborek, a small island of 0.1 square kilometre (including a football field) with a population of 300 people, that has almost…

First dive Raja Ampat, Sorido

First dive in Raja Ampat
20 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

So finally, after three hot days in Waisai where we had discussions with local authorities, we got on the Temukira, a nice little wooden ship that we rented for our expedition. It felt good to be on the water, much cooler and after days of rain it was finally sunny….

A great momentum

16 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

After a long trip we finally arrived in Waisai, Raja Ampat. Here, we wanted to sort the fins and snorkels and meet the most important stakeholders for our trip. Through a tropical monsoon we ran to the meeting: around the table that looked like a wedding cake were sitting about…

Permit Race

14 January 2020 | Category: Resilience of the richest reefs

Getting all the documents and permits done for Indonesia always feels a bit like a computer game, like a race where you need to pick up different trophies to be allowed to go to the next level. Level one starts months before you head out to Indonesia, gathering together a…