Papua New Guinea

Expeditions:Papua New Guinea

Luscious tropical rainforests and mountainous landscapes
collide starkly with the turquoise blues of the Pacific Ocean and Coral Sea,
where exotic undersea species burst alive in color


Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG), is an country in Melanesia / Oceana that occupies the eastern half of world’s second largest island. Home to tropical rainforests, mountainous terrain and lively volcanic activity, Papua New Guinea remains one of the least ecologically explored and culturally diverse places in the world. Sitting within the Coral Triangle, a marine area named for its staggering number of corals and explosive array of biodiversity, Papua New Guinea is a haven for divers and ocean explorers alike, offering scenic landscapes of magnificent corals, vibrant fish and exotic invertebrates that look like something out of a fairy tale.

From the beautiful and vivid Peacock Mantis Shrimp, to one of the smallest invertebrates in the world, the Pygmy Seahorse, there is always diverse life to be seen in these rich tropical waters. Having first traveled to Papua New Guinea in the early 1970s and then later on the ship Alycone, we came back in 2008 to these stunning islands to rediscover this biodiversity jewel. On our recent expedition we hoped to find my favorite animals of the sea – the magnificent Orcas, which can sometimes be seen in these rich waters of the Pacific.

Expanding development and rising populations of Papua New Guinea threaten the biodiversity of this exotic paradise. Below the sea the greatest threats come from destructive fishing and collection practices, along with unregulated harvesting of corals for use in traditional practices that can rapidly deplete critical coral habitats.

State of Papua New Guinea

  • Fishing is an essential source of food and income for those who live in the PNG, so the protection of healthy coral reefs and sustainable fishing is a top concern.
  • Roughly 80 percent of lowland forests have been assigned to logging or palm oil plantations, threatening the biodiversity of the region.
  • Increasing pressures from mining companies lead to more deforestation and the pollution of land, rivers and coastal waters.
  • In 2005, the PNG government announced plans to create 12 new protected areas —an increase of almost 50 per cent of protected land.
Papua New Guinea Expedition Team
Videos from Papua New Guinea

Learn more about our work in Papua New Guinea


Mantis Shrimp © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Quick Facts

  • PNG’s assemblage of wildlife represents almost 7 percent of the world’s biodiversity: it is home to more than 200 species of mammals, 700 species of birds, and over 20,000 species of plants.
  • Some 700 languages—more than 10 percent of Earth's languages—are spoken in New Guinea, and there are at least as many indigenous societies.
  • The world’s only known poisonous bird, the Hooded Pitohui (Pitohui dichrous) is native to Papua New Guinea.

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