Raja Ampat is home to masses of marine species and over 70% of the worlds known coral species. When diving in this incredible location you are often surrounded by schools of fish of different shapes and sizes. At times it can be overwhelming especially on dive sites like Blue Magic or Cape Kri, where the stronger currents and deep reef drop-offs attract schools of fish that seemingly just float in the currents off the reef.
While there is a countless number of fish surrounding you, it might be intimidating to try and identify all. We have put together a guide on what and where to expect in this diving paradise.
Most often when starting your descent on a dive you will be surrounded by Fusilier. These small blue and yellow pelagic fish are commonly found in the shallower parts of the reef where they feed on plankton. On occasion, you might also spot large groups of Red Toothed triggerfish darting to the surface before their vivid blue shapes disappear into the deeper waters again. Often you can even spot their blue shapes and turbulent water from their movements from the surface. Like the Fusilier, they mainly feed on plankton and Krill close to the surface of the water.
Juvenile Longfin Batfish has also been seen in smaller groups close to the surface and often these curious groups of fish will follow a group of divers from the descent to their accent.
While Raja Ampat is an incredible destination for divers it is also possible for snorkellers to get a taste of these impressive schools of fish. The local jetties that are found near popular dive sites are home to the most impressive snorkelling imaginable.
These sites are appropriate for even beginner snorkellers and the shallow reefs under the jetties are home to large schools of Rabbitfish, Batfish, Butterflyfish and Angelfish.
While the shallow waters of Raja Ampat are home to many schools of fish.
The deeper waters are also home to many interesting sightings.
In stronger currents most often just off the reef slope or in canyons between reefs Dogtooth Barracudas gather in large groups and seemingly just hover into the oncoming currents. These opportunistic hunters have found the currents bring easy prey to them. These groups of barracuda can be intimidating when you spot their toothy grins but make for incredible photographs.
Along with the barracudas that make the deeper waters their home many game fish can be spotted in large groups. Giant Trevally, Yellowfin Tuna, and Snappers just to name a few. While these are truly incredible schools of fish to see it is important for divers to keep safety in mind when they hope to see these gamefish. As a common rule of thumb, the stronger the currents in Raja Ampat are the more fish life you are likely to see. While diving in these currents is not dangerous when diving with trained professionals the rules of safe diving should always be followed. And safety should never be ignored for the sake of possible sightings.
Of the schools of fish that are found in Raja Ampat the most interesting are the large schools of Grouper and Giant Sweetlips that can be found in the deeper waters. Both species of fish grow to exceptionally large sizes with Giant Sweetlips reaching lengths of 1m and Groupers have been known to grow much larger even. Both species favour the deeper waters where they use rock and reef structures for protection from currents and Apex predators that also patrol the reef system. It is an impressive sight to behold when you swim over a rock formation just to see a group of 20 Giant sweetlips casually swimming below.
With the incredible marine diversity and dive sites that cater to all levels of divers, Raja Ampat is a must-visit destination for all those who want to be truly surrounded by the underwater world.