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Diving with Sharks in Raja Ampat: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Ocean

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Wobbegong Shark In Raja Ampat
Wobbegong Shark @timbocean Tim Noak

Can you see Sharks in Raja Ampat?

Raja Ampat offers a mesmerizing tapestry of marine life, with sharks playing a vital role in this underwater wonderland. From the adrenaline rush of encountering these majestic creatures to the awe-inspiring beauty of their natural habitats, diving with sharks in Raja Ampat is an experience like no other. Let us embrace the opportunity to explore and protect this marine treasure, ensuring that future generations can also revel in the magic of encountering sharks in their natural splendor.

Raja Ampat, located in the pristine waters of Indonesia's West Papua province, is a diver's paradise renowned for its unrivaled marine biodiversity. Among the awe-inspiring creatures that grace its underwater realm, sharks hold a special place. In this blog post, we embark on a virtual journey to discover the captivating world of sharks in Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat's marine environment teems with life, making it an ideal sanctuary for various shark species. From the stealthy reef sharks to the majestic oceanic whitetips, Raja Ampat offers a diverse range of encounters that are sure to leave divers spellbound. We delve into the unique characteristics of some of the shark species found here, including Blacktip Sharks, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Carpet Sharks, more commonly known as Wobbegong shark and Epaulette sharks aka walking sharks just from the jetty of Soul scuba divers.

Read more about Walking Sharks from our previous blog post

What Shark species can be seen in Raja Ampat?

The 5 most commonly seen Sharks in Raja Ampat

1. Reef Sharks

Blacktip Reef Sharks, this species is commonly found in shallow tropical waters, including coral reefs. Blacktip reef sharks are known for their distinctive black-tipped fins and slender bodies. They are relatively small in size, typically reaching about 1.5 to 1.8 meters in length.

Whitetip Reef Sharks, these sharks have a slender body and distinct white-tipped fins, which give them their name. They are typically found resting on the sandy bottoms or within caves during the day and become more active at night.

Grey reef sharks, The Grey Reef Shark is a medium-sized shark characterized by its slender, streamlined body and a distinctive grey coloration on its dorsal side, which helps it blend in with the surrounding reef. It typically grows to around 1.8 to 2.4 meters

Blacktip Shark In Raja Ampat
Blacktip Reef Shark @freediver87

2. Wobbegong Shark Aka carpet shark, Raja Ampat is also home to several species of

Wobbegong sharks, which are known for their unique appearance. Wobbegongs have a flat body with a mottled pattern that allows them to blend in with the coral reefs and seafloor. They are ambush predators that rely on camouflage to catch their prey

Carpet Sharks, Wobbengong Sharks In Raja Ampat
Carpet Shark Aka Wobbengong Shark @la_passion_d_andre

3. Oceanic Whitetip Shark, a large pelagic species with long pectoral fins. While more

commonly found in open ocean habitats, they can sometimes be encountered in Raja Ampat, particularly during certain seasons. These sharks aren't shy and are very playful, they can come very close to the divers.

4. Epaulette Sharks Aka walking sharks, are small bottom-dwelling sharks known for their

unique walking behavior using their pectoral and pelvic fins. They are typically found in shallow coastal areas, including lagoons and coral reef flats. This shark should be everyones bucket list when they visit Raja Ampat. The easiest spot to find these creatures are just from our jetty at night time!

Walking Sharks Epaulette Sharks In Raja Ampat
Epaulette Shark @NickHulley

5. Oceanic blacktip, Oceanic Blacktip Sharks are known for their distinctive black-tipped fins

and are typically found in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. They are often associated with offshore reefs, oceanic islands, and deep-water habitats. These sharks are known for their acrobatic swimming and can be seen leaping out of the water

Other species of shark that we witness in Raja Ampat are Bamboo Sharks, Leopard Sharks, and Silky Sharks. In some other regions of you can also witness hammerheads.

Raja Ampat has shark species present in every dive site, it is very common to see different sharks on almost every dive you do. These species are relatively common in the region and can often be encountered while diving or snorkeling around the reefs. It's worth noting that shark populations can vary, and their behavior and distribution can be influenced by several factors, including the time of year, oceanic conditions, and availability of prey.

When to dive Raja Ampat to see sharks?

During the months of May to October, we have the best visibility for scuba diving. Having great visibility makes it easier to see shark species that are more shy or like to stay more in the blue than near coral reefs.

From the legendary Blue Magic to the mesmerizing Sardine Reef, these dive sites have gained fame for their regular shark encounters. Blue Magic dive site is the best during these months, since you have fewer divers.

Top 10 Dives Sites to see Sharks In Raja Ampat

1. Koi Island

2. Sorido Wall

3. Blue Magic

4. Cape Kri

5. Pasir Timbul

6. Chicken reef

7. Sardine

8. Arefi Reef

9. Sawandrek

10. Yenkoranu

Understanding shark behavior is essential for safe and respectful interactions. We explore the natural behaviors of sharks in Raja Ampat, shedding light on their feeding patterns, mating rituals, and territorial habits. Discover how divers can observe sharks from a distance, allowing these fascinating creatures to roam their natural habitat undisturbed while experiencing the thrill of being in their presence.

Are sharks protected in Raja Ampat?

Raja Ampat is not only a stunning diving destination but also a pioneer in marine conservation.

Explore the initiatives aimed at raising awareness, implementing sustainable practices, and fostering responsible tourism to ensure the long-term survival of these apex predators.

It's important to note that the overall shark population in Raja Ampat, as in many other areas around the world, has been declining due to various factors such as overfishing and habitat degradation. Efforts are being made to protect and conserve sharks in Raja Ampat and other regions, including the establishment of marine protected areas and sustainable fishing practices.

The conversation program in Raja Ampat focuses on the protection of sharks, manta rays, mobulas, dugongs, and turtles within the sanctuary. Destructive practices such as reef bombing and the aquarium fish trade have been strictly prohibited. Raja Ampat has established an extensive ocean area of approximately 18,000 square miles surrounding the Raja Ampat islands as a sanctuary specifically for sharks and manta rays. This initiative is the first of its kind in Indonesia and one of the few worldwide.

The establishment of the shark and manta ray sanctuary in Raja Ampat has already begun to inspire significant changes. The proactive steps taken by the Raja Ampat government have encouraged the national Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to follow suit. The ministry is currently considering a nationwide ban on manta ray harvesting and increased protection for critically endangered shark species. Given Indonesia's status as the world's top shark fishing nation, the implementation of the shark sanctuary holds immense potential for positively impacting global shark populations.

These efforts not only safeguard the marine ecosystem but also benefit the region's thriving tourism industry. By creating the shark sanctuary and implementing a complete ban on shark capture and sale, Raja Ampat aims to restore the prominence of sharks within the reefs, allowing them to once again rule these waters

If you want to raise your own personal awareness about Sharks join us for the SSI Sharks Ecology speciality course. More info about our specialties you can find here

Shark Species | Shark Conservation | Shark Behavior | Shark Anatomy | Shark Facts | Shark Habitats | Shark Migration | Shark Research | Shark Documentaries

Shark Diving | Shark Conservation Organizations | Shark Finning | Shark Biology | Shark Feeding | Habits Shark Evolution

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