by Bret Gilliam
“My recent two-week trip in April to Raja Ampat serves to remind me of the unique and truly remarkable resource that exists in Indonesia’s northeast quadrant… pretty much smack-dab in the middle of exactly nowhere. As is often mentioned, the Raja Ampat Islands feature the world’s highest level of biodiversity… both above and underwater. It’s a place that should be on every diver’s bucket list… several times. I’ve been exploring the region now for nearly two decades and it is unequaled.
Another special treat is that the Indonesian live aboard diving fleet continues to set the bar of comfort and luxury to new levels worldwide. This was my second charter with Damai II and it was superb… diving, accommodations, service, food, and island vistas. Only 14 guests in pampered indulgence assisted by 28 crew. The ratio works for me… Geri Richard and Giel Weaver manage the operation to perfection.
Other great news is the success of stopping manta and shark fishing harvests. A well presented briefing by several conservation groups convinced the government to halt the destructive fisheries on mantas and sharks. The argument clearly showed that the economic impact of live species that divers would pay to observe naturally in the ocean dramatically exceeded killing the animals for their fins or gills. In fact, the actual business model showed a valuation of “live” versus “dead” resources to be nearly 2000 percent higher! So the bottom line fits nicely in with our bottom time…”
Bret Gilliam has been professionally involved in the diving industry since 1971, a career now spanning over forty five years. Since beginning diving in 1959, he has logged over 18,000 dives around the world. His background includes scientific expeditions, military/commercial projects, operating hyperbaric diving treatment facilities, liveaboard dive vessels and luxury yachts, retail dive store & Caribbean resort operation and ownership, publishing, as well as filming projects for movies, television series, and documentaries. He was inducted into the AUAS “Diving Hall of Fame” in 2012. www.bretgilliam.com