Raja Ampat is four Indonesian islands that are hardly known about. It can be found off the northwest of Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, a West Papua province in Indonesia. It is beautiful to say the very least. Photographer Sterling Zumbrunn was recently able to photograph this definitive underwater expedition location.
His shots very much justify its growing reputation as a top destination site in Asia. Raja Ampat, meaning the Four Kings, is an archipelago made up of over 1,500 small islands, shoals and cays. It has four main surrounding islands: Misool (home to ancient rock paintings) , Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo.
Eco tourists and underwater aficionados gravitate to this place because it offers some of the finest marine sights. In these islands, divers can explore vertical underwater walls or feel the excitement of drift diving, just two of the remarkable experiences you will find in this exotic location.
The area within the islands of the Four Kings is huge, covering 9.8 million acres of land and ocean. Here one can find 540 types of corals, over 1,000 types of coral fish in addition to 700 types of mollusks, qualifying it as the most varied underwater ecosystem.
The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International estimate that 75% of the world’s species can be found here. It is truly a remarkable location, and it is not uncommon to see divers overwhelmed by the sight of so many islands with crystal clear waters gently caressing white sandy beaches. California based Sterling Zumbrunn is one of the lucky sea explorers to experience this nature lover’s haven.
Sterling Zumbrunn is Conservation International’s Director of Photography. Zumbrunn attended Princeton University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. He started working for CI’s communications group in 1996. Zumbrunn has focused on photographing underwater topics the past decade, which include locations like Raja Ampat, Alaska, and the Galapagos Islands. His photos can be seen in numerous scientific journals, books and magazines. Zumbrunn also acts as Chief Technical Officer for Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo in Monterey.
See his collection of images from Raja Ampat both above and underwater and see another tropical paradise discovered here.