Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *31 January 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C
*Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Cruise Director: Urik
Assistant CD: Cassio
Chief Officer: Ferdi
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Dive master: Jemy
Dive master: Hery
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
We: Mioskon, Blue Magic, Sardine Reef, Saonek Jetty
Th: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo (Night)
Fr: Mayhem 1, Mayhem 2, Citrus Ridge, Gam Ridge
Sa: Manta Sandy, Manta Ridge, Sawandarek Jetty, Sawandarek Jetty
Su: Cape Mansuar, Cape Kri, Chicken Reef, Mioskon
Mo: Friwinbonda, Crossover
GUESTS: Lihui, Carrie, Jo, Wallis, John, Feyzi, Mehmet, Ken, Sisse, Ilhan, Sedat, Ates, Hakan, Yasim, Haluk
Tuesday January 31st
On the scheduled time, our guests arrived aboard of the vessel and were greeted by the crew. First they were shown their respective staterooms and we then gathered for the lunch buffet, offered by our 1st and 2nd chef, Michael and Jemly, respectively. Once the dessert was served Urik, our cruise director, proceeded with a presentation about the boat, including facilities and safety plan. This was also an opportunity for the guests to introduce themselves.
After the meal our divers had the afternoon to rest and prepare their equipment with the help of our divemasters. Sunset came and the menu served dinner followed. Urik then did a briefing about diving, sharing information about the route and logistics. This was our last activity for the guests, who were given time to rest after a long journey. By this time we were already on our way to the Dampier Strait, in Central Raja Ampat, our first diving destination.
Wednesday February 1st
Early in the morning we arrived in Mioskon, our first destination, in the Dampier Strait. The very first dive, after a light breakfast, was for the guests to check their equipment, buoyancy and start preparation for diving in the region. The currents were mild, while the visibility was around 15 meters / 50 feet. A few highlights could be already mentioned about this dive: Mantis Shrimp, Wobbegong Shark, Porcelain Crab, congregating Blue-lined Snappers, a Blacktip Reef Shark and group of Bumphead Parrotfish.
Next came the full breakfast and some rest to prepare for the second dive of the day, in Blue Magic, a seamount where the top is covered in hard coral. Some pelagic were spotted by our divemasters, Hery and Jemy, like Spanish Mackerel, Giant Trevally and schooling Pick-handle and Yellowtail Barracudas. A couple of Doogtooth Tuna were also seen cruising along the reef, couple with Whitetip Reef Sharks. Nevertheless, the high point of this dive were the Oceanic and Reef Manta Rays being cleaned on the top of the reef. An amazing dive overall!
After coming back the guests had lunch and rest. The following dive was in Sardine Reef and it was the first time the divers get to experience a little bit more current, which made this an action packed dive. Schooling fusiliers, Yellowtail Barracudas, Orange-spotted Trevally and a few Giant Trevallys were seen on the blue while on the reef a Wobbegong Shark and a Leaf Scorpionfish, in between others, were spotted among the Glassy Sweepers. Also, some of the divers got to see another Manta Ray passing by!
Coming back from the dive. Ani, our waitress, was waiting the guests with a snack. The group had then some rest during sunset while we moved north, towards the village of Saonek for the night dive, done in the jetty. It, was an opportunity to spot critters like the Crocodile Flathead, Decorator Crab, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Waspfish, juvenile Cuttlefish, Bobtail Squid, Flounder and even a sleeping Wobbegong Shark. Great night dive!
As the divers came back and had shower we gathered for dinner. Urik, afterwards, recaptured the day and reinforced the itinerary with the guests along with a presentation on history, culture and biodiversity of the Raja Ampat province. Last, glad with the first water activities of the trip, it was time for rest.
Thursday February 2nd
Before sunrise we were already in the region of Peinemu and Fam, were we would stay for the day. The first dive was in the extensive hard coral garden of Melissas Garden and with outstanding visibility (20+ meters/66+ feet) it was a beautiful dive according to the guests. Wobbegong Shark, Hawksbill Turtle, Banded Sea Snake, Blacktip Reef Shark, Comet and others were some of the highlights.
The following dive happened in the neighbor site named Keruo Channel and with a coral garden made of tables, lettuce, elephant ear and soft coral teeming with life the divers came back glad. Schooling fusiliers, batfish, Pick-handle Barracuda, Hawksbill Turtle and different species of wrasses, anthias and damselfishes brought color to the dive!
Our third dive was in Galaxy and it revealed some surprise for the divers: Denise, Bargibanti, Raja Ampat Denise Pygmy Seahorses were seen. Besides that, Mushroom Coral Pipefish, Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp and nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, were pointed out by our divemasters. On top of that, Wobbegong Sharks, Giant Trevallys and not less than six Blacktip Reef Sharks swimming in circles made this also a special dive.
Night dive was done around the island of Keruo, in Keruo Night. Some of the highlights were: Pygmy Cuttlefish, Pygmy Squid, Decorator Crab, Fimbriated Moray Eel and a few scorpionfishes. Back aboard was time for dinner and after it Jemy, our divemasters, introduced a presentation on the Epaulette Walking Shark, which has one specimen (freycineti) endemic to Raja Ampat. After that some of our guests retired to their staterooms for resting while others stayed in the salon talking. We sleep in the area tonight.
Friday February 3rd
Timely in the morning we arrived in the island of Yangeffo, our destination for the day. The first dive was done in Mayhem 1 and, as expected, it was an action packed one. Big schools of fusiliers being chased by Orange-spotted and Giant Trevally, Rainbow Runners and Bonito Tuna, coupled with schooling Big-Eye Jacks, a few Yellowtail Barracudas and a few Blacktip Reef Sharks cruising along the reef made this a dynamic dive. Along the reef a few Wobbegong Sharks and Blue-spotted Sting-ray were also pointed out.
The second dive was in the neighbor Mayhem 2 and, not different from the first, was also a fishy dive. The visibility, as it was in all dives, was around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, making it possible to gaze at the blue watching the pelagic life put on a show. Schooling fusilieres, Giant Trevallys, Yellowtail and Pick-handle Barracudas, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Shark, Spanish Mackerel and a Dogtooth Tuna brought the action. On the sandy bottom, a Blotched Stingray was seen and on the top of this seamount hosting coral boomies, hard and soft coral, Wobbegong Sharks and also an Epaulette Shark were spotted.
Our next dive was in the channel between Yangeffo and the island of Gam, named Citrus Ridge, since the soft coral present on this site is mostly orange and yellow. With some current present, helping to open the coral polyps, some highlights were seen: schooling batfish, Big-Eye Jack, Yellowtail Barracudas, Whitetip Reef Shark and also a few Mobula Rays were seen! Along the reef, scorpionfish, crustaceans and, towards the end of the dive a school of Bumphead Parrotfish were some of the sights.
The night dive was done in the other site of the same channel, in Gam Ridge. The divers drifted along the wall and were able to observe, in between others, Broadclub Cuttlefish, squid, stonefish, Decorator and Sponge Crabs. Back from the dive we gathered from dinner and as dessert was served Hery, another of our divemasters, did a presentation on Pygmy Seahorses, sharing information on this curious specimen with the guests. Finally came time to rest. The vessel sleeps on the area tonight before heading towards Arborek in the morning.
Saturday February 4th
The sun was not yet in the sky when we arrived around the island of Arborek. The morning dives were reserved to be done in site known to be Manta Rays cleaning stations. In the first one, Manta Sandy, the divers had the opportunity to see two Reef Manta Rays passing by! It was not all, though, some macro subjects were also pointed out: Mushroom Coral Pipefish, Peacock-tail Anemone Shrimp, Waspfish and nudibranchs.
Second dive was in Manta Ridge and the currents present brought life to the dive. Schooling fusiliers, Blacktip Reef Sharks and congregating Ribbon-tail and Diagonal-banded Sweetlips were seen. On the reef, a Hawksbill Turtle, nudibranchs and a whip coral shrimp were spotted. On top of that, four Manta Rays were cruising along the site and the divers go to spend some time with those.
Our third dive of the day was done in the jetty of the Sawandarek village. With an extensive hard coral garden and some branching soft coral growing close to the jetty, this was a very pleasant dive overall, according to the guests. With a gentle current and excellent visibility (25+ meters/82+ feet), the groups spotted Hawksbill and Green Turtles, congregating sweetlips, Wobbegong Shark, a few different species of Moray Eels, like the Yellow-margin and some macro subjects, mostly nudibranchs.
The night dive was done in the same site and was an opportunity to look for critters. Some seen were: juvenile scorpionfish, Painted Spiny Lobster, juvenile cuttlefish, Decorator Crab, and others. An Epaulette Shark was also seen! After it we came back and, with everyone dry, had dinner. Afterwards Urik did a presentation on the Derawan Islands, Raja Ampat Aggressor new destination coming July this year. Time came for rest and some guests retired to their rooms while others stayed in the salon talking. By this time we were already around the village of Yenbubba, where well sleep.
Sunday February 5th
Our first dive of this day was in Cape Mansuar, the island where the village of Yenbubba is situated. It was a pleasant dive filled with highlights, including the following: Wobbegong Shark, Hawksbill Turtle, Ornate Ghostpipe Fish, Broadclub Cuttlefish and the Mandarin Fish! Besides that, schooling drummers, barracudas, fusilier, snappers and congregating sweetlips provided a good opportunity for photography.
The following dive was done in the neighbor island of Kri, in Cape Kri. This site is famous for hosting huge congregations of fish and this dive was a proof of it. Immense schools of Big-Eye Jacks, Blue Surgeonfish, Cardinalfish and Oceanic Triggerfish joined smaller ones of Yellowtail Barracuda, Diagonal-banded and Ribbon-tail Sweetlips. On top of that, Bumphead Parrotfish, Napoleon Wrasse, Giant Sweetlips, Blacktip, Whitetip and Grey Reef Shark were seen patrolling the reef. As if it wasnt enough, the divemasters spotted not only one, but three Pontohi and one Serven Pygmy Seahorse hiding among the rocks. A fantastic dive!
Next dive on the schedule was done in the Chicken Reef, a site that is usually teeming with life. This time, it was not different, with mild currents and visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, schooling Redtooth Triggerfish, surgeonfish, fusiliers were being chased by Giant Trevally, Red Snapper and an occasional Spanish Mackerel. Passing by a Blacktip Reef Shark was also seen. Wobbegong Shark, Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse and Broadclub Cuttlefish were some of the creatures seen close to the reef.
Our night dive was done in the island of Mioskon and the target was to spot the Epaulette Shark. It did happen as the groups saw a couple. Not only that: Sponge Crabs, Marbled Shrimp and moray eels were some of the other highlights. After dinner, Urik explained the schedule for the following day, our last of diving, and a presentation on Sea Turtles was done. Finally came time to rest or chat listening to jazz. We sleep around Mioskon tonight.
Monday February 6th
Early in the morning we were already around the island of Friwinbonda, where we did our first dive. It was a good opportunity to spot some macro life, like the Denise and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Mushroom Coral Shrimp, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina and Chromodoris, flatworms and scorpionfishes. On top of that, schooling fusilier and surgeonfishes, coupled with Red Snappers brought more life to the reef.
The following dive was done close to Kri, in Crossover. This seamount covered in hard coral hosts some pelagic animals that our groups got to see: Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Shark, for example. Besides that, a Wobbegong Shark, schooling Ribbon-tail Sweetlips, cardinalfish, fusilier and also a Hawksbill Turtle were spotted. As usual, our divemasters also pointed out macro subjects, like the Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse.
With everyone back on board, the crew made sure that the guests gear was properly rinsed and we had lunch together. After it, Urik shared the video he made during the week with some underwater life weve seen on the trip in between takes of the guests around the boat and underwater. Time for rest was given and before sunset we got together, crew and guests, on the sun deck for the farewell party. Photos were taken, the crew played some music and it was also an opportunity for us to distribute our Aggressor Iron Diver awards for the ones who completed all the 22 available dives during the cruise.
Our Aggressor Iron Divers were: Carrie, Jo, Wallis, Feyzi, Ken, Sisse and Ates. Congratulations!
During sunset we were already anchored on the port of Sorong and after it a signature dinner was served. Urik then explained the transfer schedule for the following day and a slide show with the photos taken by the guests during the trip, already bringing back some memories from the past week. This was our last activity for the night.
Tuesday February 7th
Timely our crew gathered in the morning to say goodbye to our guests. We wish them a safe trip back home and hope to see them again in the future!