Seen from a bird’s eye view, the beautiful limestone islands found throughout Raja Ampat, Indonesia, look idyllic. In reality these are extremely rugged, karst formations formed underwater tens of millions of years ago by generations of marine organisms that secrete calcium carbonate. Subsequent tectonic plate activity caused these ancient reefs to uplift out of the sea and physical, chemical, and biological erosive forces have since carved the islands into what are now visible.
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Relatively young and shallow fringing reefs currently thrive along the edges of these limestone islands as they provide protection from wind and waves. The reefs in this remote, equatorial region harbor some of the greatest marine biological diversity on planet Earth. Raja Ampat is therefore an area of great ecological importance.
Ethan Daniels, Blue Planet Archive photographer
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