A win­dow on our im­pact: Doc­u­ment­ing a de­clin­ing piece of reef at the heart of one of the world’s most pre­cious, bio­di­verse marine ecosys­tems

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Boo Win­dows, orJa­mur Boo, is lo­cated in Misool, Raja Am­pat, Indonesia. It is a breath­tak­ing dive site. There are three large and fa­mous “win­dows” in the main reef, but divers can only swim through the two larger open­ings. The site is burst­ing with marine life in all its forms: It is cov­ered with soft co­ral, plate and staghorn corals, gor­gonian sea fans, sea whips, sponges and tu­ni­cates. Divers are treated to swirling schools of fishes, such as snap­pers, fusiliers, bat­fish, and more, while wobbe­gong sharks, tur­tles and three species of pygmy sea­horse are also com­monly seen here. It is one of our most favourite dive sites.

De­spite mam­moth (and well en­forced) con­ser­va­tion pro­grammes and pro­tec­tion ef­forts be­ing un­der­taken by the re­sorts and live­aboards whose divers fre­quent Boo Win­dows, the site is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing – pos­si­bly due to diver pres­sure and cli­mate change.

There is one four-me­tre-tall, two-me­tre-round sub­merged pin­na­cle jut­ting out from about 35 me­tres at the south­west of the site. When we started vis­it­ing this beau­ti­ful place in 2011, we were drawn to this dra­matic for­ma­tion as it was home to some of the pret­ti­est soft corals, sea fans and sponges we had ever seen. It made a won­der­ful sub­ject for pho­tographs. Ev­ery time we dived the site, we would be sure to visit this charm­ing lit­tle liv­ing “neigh­bour­hood”.

How­ever, as years went by, we started to see th­ese life forms dy­ing back. By 2015 this cone­shaped rock had be­come rather bar­ren.

We will re­turn to dive Boo Win­dows again in 2017, and hope that we will start to see some re­cov­ery of the corals, sponges, and tu­ni­cates that once drew us to ad­mire this im­pres­sive “spire of life”.

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