Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *19 February 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C
*Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Cruise Director: Urik
Assistant CD: Cassio
Chief Officer: Bahri
Chief Engineer: Yuli
Chef Assistant: Jemly
Dive master: Hery
Dive master: Deny
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Jasman
Su: Two Trees Island, Parondi Seamount, Batu Kecil (Baby Rock), Wagmab
Mo: Cape Boo, Eagle Nest, Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef), Romeo
Tu: Boo West, Nudi Rock, Tank Rock, Whale Rock
We: Gorgonian Passage, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock
Th: Love Potion No. 9
Fr: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo (Night)
Sa: Mayhem, Manta Sandy, Sawandarek Jetty, Yenbubba Jetty
Su: Cape Kri, Sardine Reef, Friwinbonda, Mioskon
GUESTS: Mike, Ed, Sidney, Jerry, Sandy, David, Mojo, Jose, Alicia, Steve, Jen, Harry, Sam, Mary, Anne
Saturday February 19th
On the scheduled time our guests arrived on board of the vessel, where waiting to greet them was the crew. First, they were shown the respective staterooms and after everyone was accommodated we gathered in the salon for our lunch buffet.
After the meal Urik, our cruise director, shared a presentation on the history of the boat, facilities available and also safety procedures. This was also a time for the guests to present themselves. Once the introduction the group had the afternoon to rest or prepare the dive equipment, which was done with the help of our divemasters, Hery and Denny.
The guests watched sunset from the upper deck and it was followed by a signature menu dinner, offered by our chef Michael and his assistant Jemly. Afterwards the crew members had the opportunity to introduce themselves and what followed what the first dive briefing, when Urik explained the logistics of diving with us This was the last activity of the day and after it the guests retired to their staterooms to rest after a long journey. By this time we were already on our way to the region of Sagof, in Misool, South Raja Ampat.
Right after sunrise we arrived at the Two Trees Island, in the area of Sagof. Our first dive of the day, after a light breakfast was the check dive, when the divers had the opportunity to evaluate their gear and buoyancy throughout the dive to get acquainted. The visibility today was around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet and the currents were mild. Some of the highlights of this dive were: Bumphead Parrotfish, Giant Trevally, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Crocodile Flathead, Reef Octopus and also schooling fusiliers.
As the groups came back from diving it was time for a full breakfast and some rest before the following immersion, done in Parondi Seamount. As usual, this was a fishy dive and some pelagic life was seen: Spanish Mackerel, Giant Trevally, Pick-handle and Yellowtail Barracuda and also congregatting Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snapper. Hery, one of our divemasters, pointed a Wobbegong Shark. As for the macro lovers, this was the first opportunity to see the Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse.
Again onboard was time for lunch, served by our waitress and housekeepers, Ani, Intan and Betty, and a longer resting period followed it. The third dive was in Batu Kecil (Baby Rock), with its colorful soft coral garden. A few species of nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha, and flatworms, a Denise Pygmy Seahorse were some of the macro subjects pointed our by Denny, our divemaster. Besides those, schooling Batfish, a Bumphead Parrotfishes, Napoleon Wrasse and another Wobbegong Shark were also seen. A great dive!
With a snack waiting the groups in the dive deck, the divers had time to enjoy the sunset while we were on our way to Wagmab, northwest of Sagof, where the night dive was done. Some of the highlights included: Pygmy Cuttlefish, Reef Octopus, Blue-spotted Stingray, Marbled Shrimp, flatworms and, again, a Wobbegong Shark!
Next came dinner and during dessert the cruise director, Urik, did a presentation about the history, geography and biodiversity of the Raja Ampat region. Afterwards most of the guests retired to their staterooms while others stayed around talking. During the night we start heading further south, around the island of Boo.
Monday February 21st
Early in the morning we did our first dive Cape Boo. A highlight from this dive was the abundant soft coral growth around the end of the and also on the shallower area. With a mild current, the polyps were open, bringing vibrant colors to the dive. As for other marine life spotted: Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Mantis Shrimp and nudibranchs, like the Jorunna funnis. Passing by were seen a Hawksbill Turtle and a Blacktip Reef Shark.
The following dive happened further south, in the seamount named Eagle Nest. With slightly stronger currents, the groups got to see some pelagic life in the form of schooling fusilieres and Yellowtail Barracudas, the last ones not shy from the cameras. Besides that, two Brown-Marbled groupers were spotted and a group of batfishes curiously followed the divers throughout most of the dive, including the safety stop!
The third dive happened in another seamount, named Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef, in English). The currents brought action to this normally dynamic dive: Whitetip and Grey Reef Sharks were seen, Orange-spotted, Blue-fin and Giant Trevally chased fusiliers and a couple of Dogtooth Tunas were also around. That, nevertheless, was not all, Napoleon Wrasse, Red Snapper, Yellowtail and Pick-handle Barracudas and a considerable amount of smaller fishes, like wrasses and anthias made this dive quite active. On top of it, a Stonefish was pointed out by our divemasters. Visibility, as it was for the previous two dives were around 20 meters/66 feet.
The night dive was in Romeo. The highlight, as it usually is in this site, was the opportunity to spot the Epaulette Walking Shark exhibiting some behavioral traits. Pygmy Cuttlefish, Reef Octopus and Decorator Crabs were some other favorites. Coming back from the dive was time for shower and dinner. After it Urik did a presentation on the same Epaulette Shark. Time then came for our guests to rest. The boat sleeps in the area for the night and we head to Fiabacet tomorrow early.
Tuesday February 22nd
Already in Fiabacet, our first dive of the day was done in Boo West, an extended ridge that descends to a seamount, where soft coral and gorgonian growth is abundant. Right in the beginning of the dive, a school of more than 50 Bumphead Parrotfishes were seen. Some other highlights included mostly macro subjects: Brown-banded Pipefish, Bubble Coral Shrimp, Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Wire Coral Shrimp and nudibranchs.
The dive that followed happened in one of Raja Ampats most famous soft coral gardens: Nudi Rock. In the midst of the vibrant colors, some of the findings were: Soft Coral Pipefish, Denise and Raja Ampat Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Porcelain Crab, in between others. But that was not all, Grey Reef Sharks, Hawksbill Turtle, Yellowmargin Moray Eel and even a Great Barracuda were seen. A great dive!
The third dive of the day, different from the others, had some currents present (even though the visibility was great, around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet for the whole day). The dive site was Tank Rock, a ridge that, when subject to water movement tends to host a high quantity of fish. Red Snappers, Spanish Mackerel, Longface Emperors, Blue-fin, Orange-spotted and Giant Trevally, Grey Reef, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Shark, for example. Not only that, since a couple of Hawksbill Turtles and a Wobbegong Shark were seen.
Night dive happened in the neighbor Whale Rock and was filled with highlights: Pygmy Squid, Skeleton Shrimp, Hawksbill Turtle, Crocodile Flathead and nudibranchs, like the Chromodoris. With the divers back on board, we gathered for dinner and after it our divemaster Hery shared a presentation on Pygmy Seahorses, mentioned their habitat, behavior and reproduction. Time was then given for rest and some retired to their rooms while others stayed around talking.
Wednesday February 23rd
The sun was not yet in the sky when we arrived in Wayilbatan, our diving destination for the day. The first dive was done in Gorgonian Passage, also known as Neptunes Fan Sea, famous for the number and size of gorgonian sea fans it hosts. On them, the groups got to see a variety of Pygmy Seahorses, from the Raja Ampat Denise, yellow Denise and the pink one. Bargibanti was another specie seen. Nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha, were pointed out by our divemasters and on the blue Blacktip Reef Shark, Spanish Mackerel and a Hawksbill Turtle were seen.
The following dive happened in Barracuda Rock and with some current present the divers got to see a school of Big-Eye Jacks and another of around a hundred Yellowtail and Chevron Barracudas. Cruising along the wall and protected by the water movement, some macro life was found: Squat and Popcorn Shrimp, scorpionfish and some other anemone shrimps, for example.
The third dive happened in Wedding Cake and it was another opportunity for macro photography among an extensive soft coral garden: Crinoid Shrimp, Papuan Scorpionfish, Reef Octopus, Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs and flatworms. Not only that, though, as schooling fusiliers and Red Snappers were seen amidst other smaller fishes.
Answering the wishes of our guests, the night dive was done in Barracuda Rock, a site where the chances to spot the Epaulette Shark are higher. As expected, it happened and the divers got to see two of them! It was not all, since octopus, sponge and decorator crabs were some of the other highlights. Back from the dive we had dinner and afterwards Urik shared a slideshow with some of his underwater photography work. After that most of the guests stayed around talking for a bit while others decided to rest. During the evening we head to Balbulol.
Thursday February 24th
As the day started we arrived in the region of Balbulol, further north from were we have been the last few days. This was our last day diving in Misool, South Raja Ampat, and the dive site chosen was Love Potion No. 9, one of the most extensive and dense soft coral gardens of the whole archipelago.
This dive was filled with highlights that served as another proof of the biodiversity of Raja Ampat. Seen were cephalopods like Reef Octopus and Squid, crustaceans like the Wire Coral, Bubble Coral and Squat Anemone Shrimps and other macro subjects like the Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha. That was not all, since Hawksbill Turtle and Banded Sea-Snake were spotted and on top of that a couple of Mobula Rays passing by. A great dive!
With the groups back on board from the dive, we started the journey to the Central Raja Ampat, where well visit the regions of Fam and Peneimu and the Dampier Strait. During the breakfast a documentary about the marine life present in the Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, was shown to the ones who were interested.
This day dinner happened earlier than usual and after it a presentation on Sea Turtles, talking about the species existing in our oceans, reproduction and threats, was given. This was our last activity for the day and after it some guests decided to rest while most stayed around listening to music and talking.
Friday February 25th
Before sunrise our vessel was already resting close to the islets which host the underwater hard coral garden known as Melissas Garden, in the region of Fam and Peneimu, Central Raja Ampat. Besides the extensive coral growth, which include staghorn, elk-horn, table and other species, the divers got to see some pelagic life, in the form of Blacktip Reef Shark and Spanish Mackerel. On top of that, some smaller animals were also photographed, like the Mushroom Coral Pipefish and Crinoid Shrimp.
The following dive was done in the channel close to Keruo, one of the islands in the region. There were plenty of animals to observe: Hawksbill Turtle, Blacktip and Grey Reef Shark, Wobbegong Shark, schooling Big-Eye Jacks, surgeonfishes and fusiliers. Besides that, some of the smaller subjects pointed out by our divemasters were: Zanzibar Wire Coral Shrimp, Mushroom Coral Pipefish, Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp and a couple of Broadclub Cuttlefishes!
Third dive of the day was done in Galaxy, ridge that on top of it hosts a colorful in lively reef where colorful anthias, damselfishes and wrasses hover around. Macro subjects are a highlight here and some of the sights included: Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Mushroom Coral and Ringed Pipefish, Crinoid Squat Lobster and nudibranchs, like the Flabellina. After this dive our guests had the opportunity to go on a supervised trek together with Urik, Hery and Denny to a point of view in order to contemplate the karst formations, characteristic from this part of the archipelago.
As the divers came back on board the preparation for the night dive started. The site was Keruo (Night) and this dive was filled with pleasant surprises. First, three Wobbegong Sharks were spotted, including one who was actively hunting. Juvenile Reef Octopus and Broadclub Cuttlefish were seen, coupled with a Pygmy Squid. On top of that, a Randall Frogfish was also spotted. A great night dive! After it we gathered again for dinner in the salon and after Urik did a presentation about the Derawan archipelago, situated in the Indonesian side of Borneo (Kalimantan). This is the Raja Ampat Aggressor new destination coming July 2017! During the night we started heading east, towards the region around Yangeffo.
Saturday February 26th
As the sun was rising in the clear sky, we arrived in Yangeffo, where we did our first dive of the day, in Mayhem, a seamount that hosts significant congregations of fish and a wide variety of hard and soft coral on its top. With some current present and great visibility, it was a good opportunity to spot pelagic like Dogtooth Tuna, Yellowtail Barracuda, Big-Eye Jacks, Bumphead Parrotfish and Napoleon Wrasse. For the ones focused on macro photography, some subjects were Crocodile Flathead, nudibranchs and Ringed Pipefish.
The following dive happened further south, in Manta Sandy, a known cleaning station around the island of Arborek. The divers had, towards the end of the dive, the opportunity to see a Reef Manta Ray passing by quite close to the groups! But that was not all, since there were a lot of smaller life pointed out by our divemasters: juvenile Reef Scorpionfish, Sarasvati and Squat Anemone Shrimp, nudibranchs, like the Phillidya, and a Leafy Filefish.
Third dive was done in the island of Mansuar, around the jetty of the Sawandarek village. It was an opportunity to contemplate the diversity of marine life of Raja Ampat. Congregating sweetlips, like the Ribbon-tail and Diagonal-Banded, Wobbegong Shark, Giant Sweetlips, Hawksbill Turtle, schooling batfish and Big-Eye Jacks were seen amidst Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, like the Facelinidae, and a Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse. This was also an opportunity to see one of the pearls of Raja Ampat: the Pikomolo Mokoloko. A great dive!
Night dive was done still around Mansuar, but on a different jetty, the one in the village of Yenbubba. This dive was filled with pleasant surprises: juvenile Broadclub Cuttlefish, Crocodile Flathead, Decorator Crab, Randall Frogfish, Starry and even a Blue-ringed Octopus. A fabulous dive! Back from it was time for shower and dinner. After it the crew surprised our guest Jose, who celebrated his 50th birthday, by giving him a cake and playing some music. This was our last activity and some guests retired to their staterooms while others stayed around talking and playing chess. We sleep around Yenbubba tonight.
Sunday February 27th
A couple miles towards east is the island of Kri, where we did our first dive of the day, in Cape Kri, famous as a place where a lot of fish congregate when there are some currents present. That was the case this day and, with good visibility (20 meters/66 feet), the divers got to see: Grey, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Shark, schooling queenfishes, surgeonfishes, fusilieres, Bumphead Parrotfishes and Yellowtail Barracuda. On top of that, Giant Sweetips, Giant Trevally and Spanish Mackerel were also seen.
The following dive was mostly a drift dive, done in Sardine Reef, due to the stronger currents present. The action during this dive was considerable, though, as Spanish Mackerels, Giant Trevally, Orange-spotted and Blue-fin Jacks hunted among a huge congregation of Yellowtail, Blue and other kinds of fusiliers. Napoleon Wrasse, Bumphead Parrotfish, Grey and Blacktip Reef Shark, Wobbegong Shark and a Hawksbill Turtle were some of the other highlights.
Third dive of the day happened further north, in Friwinbonda. This time the currents were mild to non-existent and it was an opportunity to look for macro subjects: Denise and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, like the Notodoris were some of the findings. On top of that, Blue-spotted Stingray, Day Octopus and a Spiny Devilfish were others.
Our night dive was done around the islet of Mioskon, where a huge plateau composed of hard coral and sand offers a good possibility to spot critters. Some of the highlights of this dive were: juvenile Broadclub Cuttlefish, Sponge and Decorator Crab, Blue-Ringed Octopus and a Stonefish!. Back from it, after dinner Urik shared the shedule of the following day, our last day of diving and afterwards a presentation on sharks was given. Time was then given for the guests to rest. We sleep around Mioskon tonight.
Monday February 28th
Our first dive of the day was done in Blue Magic, one of the most famous Dampier Strait dive sites. This seamount, home of species of hard and soft coral that are abundant on its top, tends to be a region where a good amount of fish congregate with some current present. This was the case on this dive, as schools of fusilieres, surgeonfishes, Big-Eye Jacks, Yellowtail Barracuda and Oceanic Triggerfish were seen. Patroling the reef, Blacktip Reef Sharks were another sight.
The following dive, the last of our beautiful jorney, was in Mioskon and was a good opportunity to take a few more pictures of the Wobbegong Shark, since two of them were spotted. Besides that, congregating 5-lined, Spanish Flag and Two-spot Snappers were another highlight. There was also space for macro subjects, like Egg Shell Shrimp, Porcelain Crab, Wire Coral Shrimp and nudibranchs.
Back from the time the crew took care of our guests equipment, washing them and storing them in order to dry before the departure. Meanwhile, we gathered in the salon for lunch and after it Urik showed the video he made of our trip, with some underwater footage of the marine life seen and also of our divers. It was the first moment to start sharing some of the fun memories from this cruise. After it time was given for the guests to rest.
Before sunset we had our farewell party, an opportunity for the crew and guests to spend time together, take pictures and listen to some music. In fact, some of it was played by the crew, with Jasman, one of our dinghy drivers, taking the lead with the guitar. This was also an opportunity to distribute our Aggressor Iron Diver awards for the ones who completed all the dives available.
Were they: Ed, Sidney, Jerry, Sandy and Dave. Congratulations!
After it we reunited in the salon to have dinner onboard and once dessert was served it was time to watch a slideshow with some of the pictures taken by our divers during the last ten days. Urik then explained the drop-off logistics as this was our last activity for the day. Once it was done some guests decided to finish packing while most stayed around talking. We are already in the port of Sorong.
Tuesday March 1st
In the morning our crew was waiting the guests on the deck to say goodbye and wish them a safe journey back home. Another fun trip aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor, we hope to see them sometime in the future!