As the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is the host of some of the most unique marine life in Southeast Asia. Many of these creatures are endemic to the archipelago, some are even protected by the government due to their status as endangered species. In this article we will list some of the marine life you can find in Indonesia’s waters.
Commonly known as the sunfish, these odd looking fish can be found swimming close to the Indonesian shores within the months of July and November. They are popular amongst divers due to their relatively frequent visits to Bali near Nusa Penida and Candidasa.
Reef Manta Rays
These majestic creatures have graced the Indonesian waters for quite some time now. Just as their name suggest, Reef manta rays, or Manta Alfredi, are a species of manta rays that have chosen to stay close to the local reefs in Indonesia. Their distant relatives are the oceanic Giant Manta Rays that swim in the deeper open ocean.
The reef manta rays are popular with divers because of their immense size that span up to 4.5 meters, making them quite a sight to experience. These manta rays are also more social and playful than their oceanic relatives, and don’t mind having divers swim together right next to them. Recently the Indonesian Government has issued a regulation that declared the entire Indonesian islands and their surrounding waters as a manta ray sanctuary. Two locations the mantas like to visit are the Manta Point in Nusa Penida and Sangalaki in the Derawan Islands. Also, if you have the chance visit the manta ray nursery in Raja Ampat in the Wayag Lagoons.
If giant sea creatures intimidate you, or if you prefer to observe the smaller unusual sea critters, then perhaps muck diving is a better option. Located 1.5 hours east of the North Sulawesi capital of Manado, is Lembeh Strait. Here you are almost guaranteed to encounter unique small creatures such as the frogfish, pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish and harlequin shrimp. Some of these animals have even adapted to camouflage their bodies such as the Rhinopias, a type of scorpion fish that like to blend themselves in like the corals.
Another muck diving location is the Bunaken National Marine Park, off the east coast of Manado. This is a site that is the habitat of numerous interesting sea creatures, such as the Harlequin ghost fish, angel fish and the vibrantly colored mandarin dragonets.
The Gili Islands located northwest off the coast of Lombok, roughly 35km east of Bali is a paradise commonly known as the “Turtle Heaven”. The islands of Gili (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are home to many unique species of turtles, namely the Green Sea Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, the endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle and the heavy Leatherback Turtles.
The high population of turtles found in the Gili Islands make them a popular diving location. The Gili Meno Wall in particular is home to an abundance of Hawksbill and Green Sea turtles. In addition, nearby north of Gili Trawangan is Shark Point, where you can find reef sharks resting on the seafloor as well as the local turtles forage for food.