Cendrawasih Bay National Park: Playground of the spotted Whaleshark
The large Cendrawasih Bay National Park in the north of the island of Papua, otherwise known as Teluk Cenderawasih, includes Indonesia’s largest marine national park, and is one of the best dive-sites in the archipelago.
Here are magnificent vertical drops, picturesque hard coral gardens, sponge life and myriads of fish
This is the playground of one of the world’s largest animals: the spotted whaleshark or rhincodon typus. If elsewhere in the world divers consider themselves lucky to meet one or a couple, here they come in pods and divers can swim along with them quite unharmed except to beware not to be hit by one of their powerful fins.
Scientist Dr. Gerald Allen calls the Cendrawasih Bay: “The Galapagos of Indonesia’s Reefs”.
Whalesharks are migratory animals, and are known to grow to 18 meters in length or more. Biologists tell us that they are an acient species originating some 60 million years ago, and are usually found in the open sea. They have a lifespan of 70 years. A 7 meter whaleshark can weigh up to 22 tonnes. Unbelievably these huge animals are docile since they live only on plankton, clouds of egg roe and small fish, which in Indonesia are called “ikan teri”.
In the village of Kwatisore near the town of Nabire, these giant fish usually gather by the floating platforms, called bagan, where fishermen haul in their catch of small fry.
Kwatisore can be reached from Nabire in around three hours by boat with two 40pk outboard motors.The only accommodation available in this village are simple rooms at the SD Imanuel Primary School in Kwatinsore.
Here the local government trains 20 students to become dive guides and to develop facilities in Kwatisore to serve more tourists.
Comprising land and coastal areas, islands, coral reefs and pristine seas, the Cendrawasih Park covers a total area of 1,453,500 hectares.
The Cendrawasih Bay Park combines coral reef ecosystems with mangrove, islands and terrestrial tropical forest ecosystems. Here are colonies of black coral, blue coral and soft coral. The Park is famous for the 209 fish species that make this Park their habitat, among which are the butterfly fish, the damselfish and parrotfish, and, of course the whaleshark, while mollusks found here include the trumpet triton, the great clam and the cone shell.
Best time to visit is between May through October.
Besides the whaleshark, four species of turtles inhabit these waters, they are the hawksbill turtle, the common green turtle, the Pacific ridley turtle and the leatherback turtle. Here are also found dugongs, coconut crabs, dolphins and sharks.
While on Mioswaar Island can be found a natural cave with ancient remains, thermal springs and waterfalls, and at Tanjung Muagguar is an underwater cave with a depth of 100 feet.
On Yoop Island and Windesi waters visitors can go whale and dolphin watching, while Nusrowi Island is ideal for diving, snorkeling, marine tours and animal observation.
On Rumberpon Island one can observe birds and deer, dive and snorkel. A sunken military aircraft wreck lies on the seabed.
Teluk Cendrawasih National Park combines coral reef ecosystems, coastal ecosystems, mangrove ecosystems and an island terrestrial tropical forest ecosystem, altogether covering a total area of 1,453,500 hectares.
The Park area includes the largest marine national park in Indonesia, consisting of land and coastal areas (0.9%), islands (3.8%), coral reefs (5.5%), and marine waters (89.8%).
Some 46 species of plant have been recorded on the islands, dominated by bakau (Bruguiera sp.), api-api (Avicennia sp.), nipah (Nypa fruticans), sago (Metroxylon sago), cemara laut (Casuarina equisetifolia), and ketapang (Terminalia catappa).
One hundred and fifty species of coral have been recorded in the Park, consisting of 15 families and distributed on the shores of 18 large and small islands. The percentage of live coral coverage varies from between 30-40% to 64-65%.
In general, the coral reef ecosystem is divided into two zones: the reef flat zone and the reef slope zone. Among the species of coral that can be seen are colonies of blue coral (Heliopora coerulea), black coral (Antipathes sp.), Leptoseris sp., Mycedium elephantotus, and soft corals.
The Park is famed for its wealth of fish species. About 209 species inhabit this Park, among them butterfly fish, angelfish, damselfish, parrotfish, rabbitfish and anemone fish. Species of mollusc include cowries (Cypraea spp.), strombidae (Lambis spp.), cone shell (Conus spp.), trumpet triton (Charonia tritonis), and great clam (Tridacna gigas).
There are four species of turtle that are quite often seen in this Park. They are the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), common green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Pacific ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), and leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). Dugong (Dugong dugon), coconut crab (Birgus latro), blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), dolphin, and shark are other frequent visitors to these waters.
There is a natural cave with ancient remains, thermal springs containing sulphur without salt on Mioswaar island, and an underwater cave with a depth of 100 feet in Tanjung Mangguar. Remains from the 18th century can still be found in several places, such as Wendesi, Wasior, and Yomber. Many Christians visit the church in Yende village (Roon Island) to have a look at a bible which dates from 1898.
Interesting locations and attractions:
Rumberpon Island: observing birds and deer, marine tours, diving and snorkelling. The wreck of a sunken military aircraft lies on the sea bed.
Nusrowi Island: diving and snorkelling, marine tours, and animal observation.
Mioswaar Island: thermal springs, waterfalls, diving and snorkelling, animal observation, and sites of cultural interest.
Yoop Island and Windesi waters: whale and dolphin watching.
Roon Island: bird watching, diving and snorkelling, waterfalls, cultural interest, and an old church.
From Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar Bali, Makassar or Jayapura take a flight to Biak and on to Manokwari or Nabire. From Nabire take a longboat to the Park at Rumberpon Island, which takes some 5.5 hours. Or, to visit the whalesharks, take a boat to Kwatisore village from Nabire. The journey takes about 3 hours.
To visit the Park, contact the Office at:
Jalan Trikora Wosi Rendani, PO Box 220
Manokwari 98312, West Papua
The best time of the year to visit is between May and October.
Source: The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, and The Ministry of Forestry Republic Indonesia