Misool, The Crown Jewel of Indonesia


I recently spent a few weeks scuba diving in the southern part of Raja Ampat on the tiny island of Batbitim.  At just three and a half kilometers in circumference, this island is not only a stellar diving destination, but it also hosts the luxurious Misool Eco Resort, while maintaining an eco-friendly environment.  I was so impressed with the resort and the conservation work they are doing there that I wanted to share a little bit about it.

The beauty and serenity of the resort itself is apparent as soon as you arrive. The island of Batbitim lies about four hours south by boat from the nearest port. It lies among other uninhabited islands and is about twenty miles from the nearest local village. Each guest enjoys their own cottage on the water, or residence on the beach. You can walk down the stairs from your front patio right in to the water for snorkeling or swimming.

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 Although the diving in this area of Indonesia is astounding, I believe it is the accomplishments of the resort itself that make this destination truly remarkable.  Just ten years ago, this island’s bay was a place where fishermen came to fin sharks.  Because the bay is a black tip reef shark nursery, that included juvenile as well as adult sharks.  Misool bought the island and has since successfully turned it into a marine sanctuary.  In fact, they have lobbied to make the entire location a marine protected area and now protect more than 1200 square kilometers.  This is policed and enforced by the local island population with great success.  The bio-mass has been documented since 2006 and in this particular area, it has a richer density and diversity than anywhere else in Raja Ampat.

A Coral Grouper rests among the iconic soft and hard corals of Raja Ampat

A Coral Grouper rests among the iconic soft and hard corals of Raja Ampat

Another great accomplishment of Misool Eco Resort, is the minimal environmental impact they have.  Everything from the cottages to the furniture are made from materials found on the island, with no trees being cut down to build with.  Fresh water is obtained through desalination, they generate their own electricity, and they recycle the gray water through the roots of a beautiful garden where it is naturally filtered.

All this is accomplished while maintaining the highest level of service and luxury in the industry.  The local islanders work on the island, the food is delicious and plentiful and the guest list is small.  In addition to scuba diving, guests can enjoy snorkeling, Stand Up Paddle boards, kayaking, local excursions and more.

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It is the scuba diving and the photo opportunities that draw visitors from all over the world.  Raja Ampat is known for its beautiful soft corals and colorful fish.

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The image above was taken at a site called Boo Window. There are two swim-throughs close to the surface that look like the eyes of a ghost. One of the “eyes” is partially covered by the gorgonian fan, but you can see why the site got its name. I asked my guide, Marfal, to show me critters such as the Raja Ampat pygmy seahorse which is found only in Southern Raja Ampat. Everything I asked to see, he found without fail.

Raja Ampat Pygmy Seahorse

Raja Ampat Pygmy Seahorse

I even mused that what I really wanted was a shot of a giant manta hovering above the colorful reef, to which he replied, “Okay.”

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Truly, Misool Eco Resort is one of those fantasy destinations that most people only dream about.  I can tell you that I will be dreaming about it for a long time to come.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me
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Love Affair, A Nudiphile Episode


I am having a love affair with this tiny little Sacoglassan sea slug called Placida cremoniana.  I know, it all sounds like scientific jibberish, so putting all the big words aside, I’ll just call it PC.

In the past few weeks, I have made several trips out to Catalina Island to search for the tiny beast.  It was necessary to collect some specimen so that their DNA could be analyzed, as they have never been found in California.  This will tell us whether PC came from the bilge of a passing ship, or if it has spread slowly from the south, or if it is an entirely new critter altogether. Interestingly enough, the slug seems to be plentiful in numbers.  I found them as small as 1mm and as large as about 6mm in length.

Placida cremoniana

Placida cremoniana

The unusually warm waters along the Pacific coast for the past year or more have encouraged many warm water life forms to journey north.  Most of the sightings have been of very large creatures such as a Whale Shark, Sperm Whales, Hammerhead sharks, and a plethora of fish such as yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and even Ono.  I was lamenting the fact that I haven’t seen any of these southern visitors yet, when I found this very tiny sea slug.  I guess I should have set my sights smaller in the first place!

Placida cremoniana.  As it turned around, it reared up and showed it's underside.

Placida cremoniana. As it turned around, it reared up and showed it’s underside.

If it is just a warm water visitor, then it may be a temporary condition.  Kinda sad, when you think about it.  If it cannot survive in California’s usually temperate water, then an entire population may disappear from our waters.  When you consider that I have been able to find them on every dive I have been on since I first found one, that becomes a very large population.   I hope to be able to report soon where this critter has come from.  If it truly is Placida cremoniana, then it is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean and spread to the western Pacific from Japan all the way to Australia.  Several years ago, one was found in Baja, so the possibility of it coming up from the south is an interesting one.  Stay tuned….

Just for the sake of size context:  the bottom right corner is the texture of the skin on my finger.

Just for the sake of size context: the bottom right corner is the texture of the skin on my finger.

All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please use the contact form below.