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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *20 March 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdi
Operations Manager: Antonio
Cruise Director: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Chef Assistant: Jemly
Dive master: Denny
Dive master: Jemy
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Tu: Two Trees Island, Farondi Seamount, Batu Kecil (Baby Rock), Wagmab
We: Batu Hitam (Black Rock), Andiamo, Candy Store, Candy Store
Th: Eagle Nest, Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef), Yillet Kecil, Romeo
Fr: Boo West, Nudi Rock, Tank Rock, Whale Rock
Sa: 4 Kings, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock
Su: Grouper Net, Plateau, Love Potion No.9
Mo: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo Night
Tu: Mayhem I, Manta Sandy, Sawandarek Jetty, Yenbubba Jetty
We: Cape Kri, Blue Magic
GUESTS: Maciej, Kasia, Kimberly, Craig, Vick, Elisabeth, Elaine, Craig, Kerry, Brian, Linda, Anna
Monday March 20th
At around 12:30 our guests arrived on board of the vessel and were greeted by our crew. As they sit down, have a cold beverage and relax, the introduction to each ones stateroom started. Acquainted to their accommodation, we gathered in the salon to have lunch together. After the meal our Cruise Director did a presentation about the boat, mentioning its facilities, safety plan and other details about the cruise.
Time came for rest and prepare the dive gear, which was done with the help of our divemasters, Jemy and Denny, and dinghy drivers, Ody and Carly. Even though the sky was cloudy, guests had time to enjoy the sunset and afterwards a signature welcome dinner, prepared by our chef Michal and his assistante Jemly, was served.
Finally, a briefing on the dive logistics from our vessel was given in order to prepare the guests for our first day of diving tomorrow. This was our last activity for the day and after it most of our guests retired to their staterooms after a long journey. By this time we were already on our way to Misool, South Raja Ampat.
Tuesday March 21st
As the sun was rising in the horizon, we arrived around the region of Sagof, where we spent the first day of diving together. After a light breakfast early in the morning, the bell was ringed for the first dive briefing. The dive site chosen for the check dive was the Two Trees Island, and it was an opportunity for our divers to get comfortable diving from our vessel. Nevertheless, some highlights came across, like the Bumphead Parrotfish, schooling fusiliers, batfish and rabbitfishes. Some nudibranchs were also pointed out by our divemasters, like the Blue Dragon. As it was the case for the whole day, visibility was good (15-20 meters/50-66 feet) and the currents were mild, allowing the divers to move around the sites.
Back on board we had a full breakfast and a short rest before the second dive of the day, in the Farondi Seamount. Along its wall, black coral and sea fans were and among them our first Pygmy Seahorse (Bargibanti specie) was found. That was not all, since congregating Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers, schooling Pick-handle Barracudas and Bumphead Parrotfishes and the first Wobbegong Shark of the trip were also seen.
Lunch time came and we had our first Indonesian meal of the trip! A longer period of rest followed before we started gearing up for the third dive, done in Batu Kecil (Baby Rock in Bahasa Indonesia). The divers came amazed with the vibrant colors of the soft coral garden found on this site and among it Brown-banded Pipefish, nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha and other critters were found. One of the highlights of this great dive, though, was eight Mobula Rays seen passing by the northern wall!
As the groups came back on board, Novita and Betty, our housekeepers and waitresses, were waiting with a snack. We, then, sailed northwest towards Wagmab, where the night dive was done. The short journey was an opportunity for the guests to enjoy the sunset and breeze that followed. As it is usually the case in Raja Ampat, night dives was dedicated mostly for macro life: nudibranchs, Decorator Crabs, Marbled Shrimps and others were some of the findings.
As the divers arrived and had shower we gathered in the salon for a special dinner, since the dessert was birthday cake prepared for Antonio, whose birthday we all celebrated together. After it a presentation on the Raja Ampat archipelago, talking about the history, culture and biodiversity was given by the Cruise Director. This was our last activity for the day and the guests, happy with this beautiful first day, retired to their staterooms to rest. The boat sleeps in Wagmab tonight.
Wednesday March 22nd
Early in the morning we started sailing towards the southeast in the direction of Daram. On the way we made a stop for our first dive, in Batu Hitam (Black Rock). With a mild current and visibility around 15 meters/50 feet, most of the fish were close to the reef and some of the schools were formed by batfish, fusiliers, Yellowtail Barracudas which mixed with Red Snappers, Brown-marbled Groupers and Giant Trevally. As for the macro life: Ringed Pipefish, Bubble Coral Shrimp and some anemone crabs were pointed out.
The following dive of the day happened in Andiamo, two islets that host two parts of a big reef. One of it consists of two pinnacles where Bumphead Parrotfishes, Yellowtail Barracudas, Blue-lined Snappers and critters, like the Lionfish and Scorpionfish live. The dive continued into a plateau where plenty of coral species, both hard, like the acropora, and soft are abundant. Orangutan Crabs, Malabar Groupers, Orange-spotted Trevally and more were seen by our divers.
Third dive of the day happened in Candy Store and its extensive gorgonian sea fans collection. Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Papuan Scorpionfish, Mantis Shrimp and pipefishes were seen. On top of that, schooling fusiliers, rabbitfish, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks together with a Hawksbill Turtle were seen passing by this ridge that descents through a wall to a sandy bottom.
Our night dive was in the same location as the previous one, but the group stayed on a plateau where they could see Reef Octopus, Green Moray, Snake Eelsea cucumbers, in between others. After the dive we had dinner and it was followed by a briefing about the day and a the explanation of the next day. Finally, to finish the day, Jemy, our divemaster, did a presentation on the Epaulette Walking Shark, which we hope to see in a few of the next night dives. Most of the guests went to their staterooms to rest and prepare for the following day.
Thursday March 23rd
Already around the island of Warakaraket in the morning, we started preparing for our first dive, done in Eagle Nest. A seamount hosting a dense orange soft coral garden, it was an opportunity for the guest to swim around and enjoy the fish life, since the visibility was around 25+ meters/70+ feet and the currents were mild. Schooling fusiliers, batfish and a Bumphead Parrotfish were hovering around the top of the reef. On top of that, some of the macro life seen were nudibranchs, Bubble Coral Shrimp and the Denise Pygmy Seahorse.
The following dive was in the neighbor seamount named Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef, in Bahasa Indonesia). The reef was teeming with life and our groups saw Whitetip and Grey Reef Shark, Napoleon Wrasse, Giant, Orange-spotted, Blue and Big-Eye Trevally, besides a Wobbegong Shark and in wide variety of reef fishes. It was a fantastic dive where the conditions were similar to the previous one!
The third dive of the day was done further north, in Yillet Kecil. Schooling batfish, Yellowtail and Chevron Barracudas were seen passing by on the blue. Along the reef, nudibranchs, flatworms, moray eels and other smaller creatures were pointed out by our divemasters. On top of that, two Reef Manta Rays were around, a rare sight for this time of the year in the South Raja Ampat.
Night dive was in the same place but a different site, Romeo. It was an opportunity for our divers to see, for the first time, the Epaulette Walking Shark and, in fact, the groups saw more than one hunting on the reef. Besides that, baby Reef Scorpionfish, Crocodile Flathead and a Bumphead Parrotfish were also celebrated. After the dive we had dinner and it was followed by a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses, these magical creatures that inhabit the reef of the archipelago. This was our last activity of the day and most of our guests retired to their staterooms to rest afterwards.
Friday March 24th
Before dawn we arrived in the region of Boo and Fiabacet, where we spent our day of diving. The first dive site visited by our guests was Boo West, an extending ridge that is connected to a seamount, the last one covered in both soft and hard coral (including a giant table), whip coral and gorgonians. Swimming on the top of it were fusiliers, Midnight and Red Snappers, and a Hawksbill Turtle, while below them Spanish Mackerel and a Grey Reef Shark were hunting. Along the reef our divemasters pointed out two species of Pygmy Seahorses, the Bargibanti and the Raja Ampat Denise. On top of this great dive, a school of 70+ Bumphead Parrotfishes was seen congregating in a corner of the reef where they seem to sleep.
The second dive of the day was done in one of the most sought after soft coral gardens of Raja Ampat, Nudi Rock (the name comes from the fact that the rock resembles a nudibranch). With a gentle current coming from the south and visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, the divers got to see Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks and a few Grey Reef Sharks who joined Spanish Mackerels, Giant Trevallys and Rainbow Runners in the action part of the dive. Towards the end our divers send most of their times in the shallow sheltered area looking for critters among the abundant soft coral. Some of the findings were: Peacock-tail Anemone Shrimp, Porcelain Crab, Soft Coral Pipefish, and more.
Following dive happened in Tank Rock, a diminutive islet that hosts a big ridge underwater where fish tend to congregate when there are some degree of current present, especially on the top of it, where also the coral growth is plentiful. Some of the highlights of this dive were the Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Crocodile Flathead and, as for the bigger animals, a Hawksbill Turtle, Longface Emperors and a Grey Reef Shark.
During sunset the groups rested and after it some started preparing for the night dive, in Whale Rock. The groups spend their dive on the shallow plateau where tables, lettuce and finger corals are abundant. Some of the findings included: Pygmy Squid, nudibranchs and Decorator Crab. With everyone back onboard we gathered for dinner and after it a slideshow with pictures from previous guests was shown as an opportunity for the guests to name some of the marine life already seen during this trip. This was our last activity today and most retired to their rooms to rest. By this time we were already on our way to Wayilbatan, where the boat sleeps tonight.
Saturday March 25th
Together with the sunrise we arrived in our first dive site of the day, 4 Kings, named because of the four pinnacles that form this impressive dive site. Usually a place where fish congregate, our divers could see schooling batfishes, fusiliers, rabbitfishes, Yellowtail Barracudas and Big-Eye Jacks. On top of that, along the reef a brown Leaf Scorpionfish was spotted by our divemasters!
The following dive happened in Barracuda Rock, east from the previous one. As it was in 4 Kings, the visibility was around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet and the currents were mild. A huge school of Yellowtail and Chevron Barracudas (70+) could be seen on the blue, where a Napoleon Wrasse, Big-Eye Jacks and batfishes could also be seen. Closer to the reef, another huge congregation of fish, this time Yellowtail Fusiliers was hovering close to a overhang where a Giant Frogfish was found. A great dive!
Third dive of the day happened in the same region on a site named Wedding Cake. With a slightly stronger currents, our divers could drift and watch the curious landscape formation on this site, which reminds a layer cake. As for the highlights, they were mostly macro subjects: Crocodile Flathead, Reef Octopus, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina and Chromodoris and flatworms.
As the sunset went, we started gearing up for the night dive, done in Barracuda Rock. It was another opportunity to spot the Epaulette Walking Shark, since some of our divers havent seen it yet! Another highlights were: Papuan Scorpionfish and Marbled Shrimp. Back aboard the vessel, we had dinner together and after it a presentation on sea turtles was done in order to share some information on this marine reptiles with the guests. Finally, it was time for rest as most went to their cabins. The boat sleeps in Wayilbatan tonight.
Sunday March 26th
Further northeast from where we slept the previous night is our first dive site of the day, Grouper Net. This seamount offer a wide variety of marine life to be seen and found and this dive was not different. Our divemasters pointed our a white Painted Frogfish, Denise and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorses, Ringed Pipefish, Bubble Coral Shrimp, Popcorn Shrimp, in between others. The cherry on the top of the cake was, though, having the opportunity to see an Oceanic Manta Rays passing by the top of the reef, quite a sight!
The following dive happened further north, in the region of Balbulol, on a site named Plateau. With a mild current and visibility around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, the groups could swim around this reef and enjoy the critters it hosts. Nudibranchs, like the Blue Dragon, Flabellina, Phillidia, Headshild Slugs, Zanzibar Wire Coral Shrimp, Yellowmargin Moray, Papuan Scorpionfish and a Day Octopus were found. Other than that, two Wobbegong Sharks were also seen!
Third dive of the day, our last in the region of South Raja Ampat, was in Love Potion No. 9, one of the most impressive soft coral gardens of the archipelago. The groups spent most of the dive in the sheltered area of the reef, swimming along the reef and observing what was found. Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Tasseled Scorpionfish, flatworms, nudibranchs and even an Epaulette Shark (commonly seen during the night) were spotted!
As scheduled, right after the third dive we started our crossing towards the Central Raja Ampat, also known as the Dampier Strait. The guests had time to enjoy the sunset and dinner was served earlier. As our last activity for the day a presentation on the Derawan Archipelago, mentioning some of its characteristics and diving highlights, was given to the groups in order share information on Raja Ampat Aggressor new destination coming July this year!
Monday March 27th
Today we arrived for our tour in the Central Raja Ampat, also known as the Dampier Strait. We spent the day in the region of Fam and Penemu and the first dive site was Melissas Garden, one of the most impressive and extensive hard coral gardens of the whole archipelago. With some current bringing nutrients and life to the reef, our divers got to see some action in the form of Big-Eye Jacks, Blue-fin Trevally, Longface Emperors, a few Blacktip Reef Sharks patrolling the reef and three Wobbegong Sharks, including one swimming. A fantastic dive to finish the day, especially when you consider the time spent hovering on top of the garden watching smaller reef fishes swim by.
The following dive happened close to the island of Keruo, in Keruo Channel. This site hosts a long wall where, with some current, the divers drifted along watching the fish life in the form of schooling fusiliers, grouper, like the Lyretail, batfishes and a few surprises, like the Hawksbill Turtle. This on top of the impressive landscape, since the wall is covered in huge gorgonians and a mix of soft and hard coral.
Third dive of the day happened closer to Penemu, in Galaxy, a site known for being an interesting spot for macro life. This dive was not different: Bargibanti, Denise and Raja Ampat Denise Pygmy Seahorses were pointed out by our divemasters. It was not all, since nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, pipefishes, like the Ringed, Egg-Shell Shrimp and others were also found. Towards the end of the dive a few divers got to see a Giant Clam measuring up to 1,5 meters/4 feet!
This day also offered the opportunity for the guests to go on a supervised trip around Penemu when, besides touring in between the little islets of the region and a lagoon, they had the opportunity to visit a viewpoint from the region. Pictures were taken and everyone also had time to enjoy the silence sometimes interrupted by the sound of birds. Night dive was done back in Keruo, along a sandy slope. Some of the highlights included: Sponge and Decorator Crab, Giant Moray Eel and baby Octopus.
With everyone back we had dinner together and afterwards our crew, lead by Jasman, our deck hand and guitar player, played a few songs for the guests. Finally, Maciej and Anna shared a presentation about Bali and its diving opportunities with the guests. Time was then given for rest as we were on our way to Yangeffo, northeast of Fam and Penemu, where the boat will sleep tonight.
Tuesday March 28th
Already in our diving destination we woke up and, after a light breakfast, started preparing for our first dive of the day, in Mayhem I, a seamount that hosts a large variety of both soft and hard coral. With some current and visibility around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, this was an opportunity to see some fish action. Schooling fusiliers, rabbitfishes, surgeonfishes were being chased by Yellowtail and Chevron Barracudas, Dogtooth Tuna and Spanish Mackerels. On top of the seamount, schooling Bumphead Parrotfishes, a few Blacktip Reef Sharks and some Wobbegong Sharks made this an amazing dive!
Second dive of the day happened further south, close to the island of Arborek, in a known Manta Ray cleaning station, Manta Sandy. All our divers got to spend more than half an hour gazing at this beautiful creatures as two black Reef Manta Rays hovered on top of two cleaning stations occasionally passing by close to the divers to play with their bubbles. That was not all, though, nudibranchs, Anemone Shrimps and a Wobbegong Shark also made part of this dive.
Our next dive happened even further south in the island of Mansuar. The dive site is located in the jetty of the village named Sawandarek and it was a diverse, beautiful dive, according to our guests. Green Turtle, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks, schooling Oriental Sweetlips and Humphead Snappers, Yellowmargin Moray Eel, batfishes and even three Mobula Rays were seen passing by. What a great day of diving in the Dampier Strait!
Towards the east, in the jetty of the Yenbubba village, was where we did our night dive. Usually filled with pleasant surprises, this time was not different: Sponge Crabs, Baby Cuttlefish, Pygmy Squid, Baby Octopus, scorpionfishes and others were pointed out by our divemasters. After it we gathered in the salon and, as dessert was being served, the guests had an opportunity to thank our chef, Michael, and his assistant, Jemly, personally with a big round of applause regarding their satisfaction with our meals.
Finally, an explanation on the day of tomorrow, our last full day together, was given and it followed a presentation about sharks and its impact on our ecosystems. This was our last activity for the day and most of the guests went to their rooms afterwards. The boat sleep in Yenbubba tonight.
Wednesday March 29th
Before the sun rise rose in the sky we we already further east, around the island of Kri. This is where we did our first dive, in Cape Kri, a site known for its biodiversity of fish life. This dive was not different, with outstanding visibility (30+ meters/100+ feet) and some current bringing life to the reef, our divers could see Bumphead Parrotfishes, Big-Eye Jacks, Yellowtail Barracudas, Blacktip Reef Shark and others. But the great highlight of this dive was the presence of an Oceanic Manta Ray passing close to the groups, swinging gently its wings and impressing everyone. A great moment!
The following dive, our last in this great trip, was in Blue Magic, a seamount located in the middle of the Dampier Strait. With conditions similar to the previous dive, a lot of fish was seen on this dive as well. Schooling Pick-handle and Yellowtail Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks, Spanish Mackerels, fusiliers and even a Potato Grouper were seen! Besides those, on the top of the seamount a Wobbegong Shark, Tasseled Scorpionfishes and a baby scorpionfish were also pointed out by our divemasters. Finally, towards the end of the dive one of our groups got to see another Oceanic Manta Rays passing by. Great dive to close this lovely trip.
As our guests came back onboard and the crew took care of rinsing their gear, we gathered for lunch. After the meal a video with some of the underwater marine life seen during the last ten days, including footage of our guests during dives, was shown to everyone. Everyone had some time to rest or start packing afterwards and finally we had our farewell party in the sundeck. Our band played some music to the guests and awards were distributed.
As for the milestone divers, Kerry, 50, Anna, 100, and Vick, 600, completed an special amount of dives during this cruise. Congratulations!
Kerry and Anna also became SSI Enriched Air (Nitrox) Divers during the trip!
Finally, two of our guests received their Raja Ampat Aggressor Iron Diver awards: Craig R and Linda. Well done!
Sunset came as we arrived in the port of Sorong and we met in the salon again for dinner. After it the plan for the following morning, the check-out, was explained to our guests and a slideshow with the pictures taken by the divers during the trip was shown, a good time to start sharing some memories from the trip. This was our last activity together and time was given for rest.
Thursday March 30th
On the scheduled time our crew was waiting for the guests in the deck to say good-bye. It was a great, fun, pleasant trip we all had and we all hope to see them back aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Have a safe trip back home!