Derawan Islands

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Derawan Island shoreline

The Derawan Islands (Indonesian: Kepulauan Derawan) are in the province of East Kalimantan in Indonesia. They include Derawan, Sangalaki, Kakaban, Maratua, Panjang, and Samama Island and submerged reefs and islets. They are located in the Sulawesi Sea, on the coastal shelf of East Kalimantan (2°17′N - 118°13′E). The islands are part of the Berau Regency.


Derawan islands is a part of Coral Triangle, which contains one of the richest marine biodiversity on earth. Located in a biodiversity hotspot, the Derawan Islands feature 872 species of reef fishes, 507 species of coral, and invertebrates, including protected species (5 giants clam species, 2 sea turtles, coconut crab, etc.). Some of the islands harbor the heavily exploited turtle eggs and yet the largest green turtle nesting site in Indonesia.

Unpoisoned jellyfish[edit]

Derawan Islands have at least two ponds contain unpoisoned jellyfish, one in Kakaban Island and the other in Maratua Island with Haji Buang Pond. Kakaban is more famous than the second which is also more difficult to access. Indonesia at least have 7 ponds with unpoisoned jellyfish, the others are 3 ponds in Raja Ampat, West Papua, one in Togean Island, Central Sulawesi and one in Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara.[1]

Resources Use[edit]

There are two inhabited islands, namely Derawan (1 village of 1,259 people) and Maratua (4 villages of 2,704 people). Fishing is an important income-generating activity for the community. Since the early 1990s, people have caught live groupers, napoleon wrasse, and lobsters, to fill high demand. There are 3 dive resorts on Derawan Islands, while more additional resorts or facilities are in the planning process.


Maratua Island is 384.36 square kilometers and has at least 13 caves, but the prediction, more than a hundred caves are not yet explored. The caves usually have connection directly to the sea due to the caves are originated from the reef which sea water infiltrates into the land making underground channels.[2]


Problems in Derawan Islands including:

  • Overfishing and overexploitation, including turtle egg collection
  • Destructive fisheries utilizing cyanide and explosives
  • Environmental degradation caused by diving related activities and unsustainable tourism development, especially around the Kakaban lake
  • The increase of sedimentation due to intensive logging activities in Berau estuary nearby and in the adjacent watershed areas.
  • The increase of sewage pollution cased by growing human population on small islands and the intensive tourism development.

Since 2011, Berau Coal Diving Club has helped WWF to save the coral reefs of Derawan Island.[3]


There are 31 named islands (see table)

Names of islands
No. Island Name Hectare (ha)
1. Semut island 6.9
2. Andongabu Island 5.3
3. Bakungan Island 8.7
4. Bantaian Island 230.6
5. Besing Island 560.1
6. Bonggong Island 123.2
7. Bulingisan Island 4.5
8. Derawan Island 44.6
9. Maratua Island 2375.7
10. Nunukan 4.8
11. Panjang Island 565.4
12. Rabu-rabu Island 26.7
13. Sangalaki Island 15.9
14. Sangalan Island 3.5
15. Sapinang Island 241.3
16. Semama Island 91.1
17. Sidau Island 31.2
18. Tiaung Island 372.5
19. Pabahanan Island 2.0
20. Kakaban 774.2
21. Sodang Besar Island 6145.8
22. Telasau Island 1080.0
23. Tempurung Island 1291.2
24. Bilang-bilangan Island 25.2
25. Manimbora Island 2.0
26. Blambangan Island 22.0
27. Sambit Island 18.0
28. Mataha Island 25.8
29. Kaniungan Besar Island 73.3
30. Kaniungan Kecil Island 10.2
31. Bali Kukup Island 18.2

Airport and seaport[edit]

To boost tourism, local government will build an airport and a seaport at Maratua Island and both were predicted to operate in 2013.[needs update] World Wildlife Fund and environmental activists are opposing it because the construction of the projects will surely[according to whom?] affect the turtle habitat and coral reefs on Maratua Island, but the local government apparently[according to whom?] focuses more on development projects instead of conservation.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tujuh Danau Ubur-Ubur Unik di Indonesia". Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ Robby Irfany (August 26, 2015). "13 Prehistoric Caves Await Cavers in Derawan Islands". 
  3. ^ "Diving to save the reefs of Derawan". Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  4. ^ "Activists nix airport, seaport plans for Maratua Island". February 10, 2012. 

Coordinates: 2°15′N 118°25′E / 2.250°N 118.417°E / 2.250; 118.417