Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *11 April 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdi
Cruise Director: Urik
Assistant CD: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Chef Assistant: Jemly
Dive master: Hery
Dive master: Denny
Dive master: Jemy
Tender Driver: Jasman
Tender Driver: Ody
We: Kampung Baru, Rhino City, Pintu Kota, Pintu Kota (Night)
Th: Nusa Laut (Wall), Nusa Laut (Garden), Nusa Laut (Shallows)
Fr: Pohon Miring, Batu Kapal, Pulau Pisang, Pulau Pisang
Sa: Big Ridge, Red Cliff, 8th Wonder
Su: Too Many Fish, Too Many Fish, Too Many Fish
Mo: Seamount, Batu Cantik, Tanjung Wap, Tanjung Wap
Tu: Little Komodo, Sareanus, Bos Rainbow, Macro Rocks
We: Larrys Heaven, Batu Jeruk, Christmas Rock, Christmas Rock
Th: Bagans, Bagans
GUESTS: Pat, Laura, Pato, Ane, Murph, Cathy, Lindsay, Jim, Bob, Tim, Cecilia, Garth, Marc, Batu
Tuesday April 11th
This was our reception day to our guests. As they arrived on board the crew greeted them and Urik, our cruise director, proceeded in showing everyone their staterooms. Acquainted to their accommodation, the divers relied on the help of Hery, Jemy and Denny, our divemasters, to set up their equipment for the trip.
Just before sunset, with everyone on board, Urik did a presentation on the areas of the boat and its facilities and it was followed by a signature dinner offered by Michael and Jemly, our chef and chef assistant, respectively. After dessert another presentation, this time related to the diving logistics from our boat, was given. This was our last activity for the day and time was given for our guests to rest after a long journey. The boat sleeps around Laha, Ambon.
Wednesday April 12th
With the sun rising and the full moon still in the sky, our guests woke up and had their light breakfast early in the morning. After it we had our first dive of the day, done in Kampung Baru (New Town, in Indonesian). It was followed by a full breakfast, our first complete meal of the day. Rest time came and we started preparing for the second dive, done in the same area but in a different site, Rhino City.
Both dives were muck dives and our divemasters spent their time looking for interesting critters to point out. Since Ambon is known as a prime destination for this kind of diving, there were many highlights to be seen: Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Ribbon Eel, Leaf Scorpionfish (black, white, yellow and pink variations), Estuarine Stonefish, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, Broadclub Cuttlefish and even two Rhinopia (Weedy) Scorpionfishes! The currents were present and the divers drifted along the rocky slope.
After the first two dives we had a buffet lunch in the salon and it was followed by an interval for resting. Our vessel moved out of the bay of Ambon, towards southeast, where we did our third dive of the day, in Pintu Kota (Citys Gate). The formation of this site is quite a sight because of a vast overhang that hosts a dense soft coral forest and numerous gorgonians from different species. As for the marine life seen, in between others, Dogtooth Tuna, surgeonfishes and fusiliers were seen on the blue and Zanzibar Wire Coral Shrimp and Hairy Squat Lobsters were two of the highlights along the reef.
Back from the dive, Betty, Anni and Novita, our stewardess, were waiting for the divers with a snack. Sunset came and after it we started preparing for the night dive, done slightly east, in Pintu Kota (Night). Some of the highlights included: Decorator Crab, Broadclub Cuttlefish (juvenile), nudibranchs, like the Jorunna funebris, and a Slipper Lobster. Back on board our guests had time for shower before we gathered in the salon for our menu dinner. After it Urik shared a presentation on history, geography and biodiversity of Raja Ampat, the main destination of our vessel.
Time for resting came afterwards and most of the guests retired to their staterooms, while others stayed around chatting and working on their photos. By this time we were on our way to Nusa Laut.
Thursday April 13th
Another beautiful sunset was in the sky as our divers started preparing their gear for the first dive in Nusa Laut, where we would dive for the day . It was done in the outer part of the reef, along a wall that ends into a sandy slope and its an opportunity to look for pelagic life. Some of the highlights included: Giant Moray, Grey Reef Shark, schooling Black Snappers, fusiliers and rabbitfishes and also a couple of Hawksbill Turtle. On top of that, one of our groups also got to see a small pod of Bottlenose Dolphins, including young ones!
The following dive happened along the sandy slope and was finished at a shallow dense hard coral garden. As it was for the whole day, the visibility was outstanding (35-40 meters/115-132 feet) and the currents were mild. Along the garden smaller reef fishes, like damselfish, anthias, wrasses, goatfishes and different species of snappers movement to the dive. Some critters were also pointed out by our divemasters, like the Peacock-tail and Squat Anemone Shrimp.
Our last dive of the day was spent entirely along the hard coral garden and with the sun bright in the sky, it was an excellent opportunity for photography as a result of the light and vivid blue color of the water. Some of the marine life seen included Napoleon Wrasse (juvenile), Hawksbill Turtle, Diagonal-banded and Oriental Sweetlips, Tasseled Scorpionfish and nudibranchs, like the Phillydia, among others.
With everyone back on board, we started sailing towards southeast, direction Banda Islands, our next destination. Because of the crossing we didnt have a night dive and our guests used the opportunity to either watch the sunset from the sun deck or chat on the salon while listening to some music. Dinner was served earlier and after it Bob, one of our guests, shared his video from the trip he, Tim, Pat, Jim and Lindsay, other guests on board, did with us vessel last year, in Cenderawasih Bay (northeast of West Papua). This was our last activity for the day and most of the guests retired to their staterooms while others stayed in the salon.
Friday April 14th
Having arrived in Banda during the night, we started gearing up for our first dive, in Pohon Miring. With visibility around 15 meters/50 feet and stronger currents that picked up during the dive, our divers got to see a few Bumphead Parrotfishes, Brown-Marbled Grouper, Napoleon Wrasse, Honeycomb Moray Eel and also a Hairy Squat Lobster.
Back on board we gathered for breakfast before our second dive took place in Batu Kapal (Boat Rock, in Indonesian, because of the shape of the islet), a site where the divers could see two pinnacles around the main rock, a stunning topography. With a gentle current and visibility of 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, the groups were amazed by the fish life in the form of schooling triggerfishes, surgeonfishes, fusiliers, butterflyfishes and also some reef creatures like the Giant, Honeycomb and Yellowmargin Moray, a couple of Midnight Snappers (juveniles), Hairy Squat Lobster, Reef Octopus, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Banded Sea-Snake and more. A fantastic dive!
The following dive happened along the coast of Pulau Pisang (Banana Island, in Indonesian) and its wall that starts after a densely covered hard coral garden that our divers got to enjoy with plenty of visibility (20 meters/66 feet) and great light result of this beautiful sunny day. Some of the marine life seen included: Porcelain Crab, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Marbled Shrimp and a Broadclub Cuttlefish!
Back onboard we had time to enjoy the sunset as most guests started to gear up for the night dive, done in coral garden of Pulau Pisang because of its topography. Some of the highlights included: Decorator and Sponge Crab, Marbled Shrimp, Tasseled Scorpionfish, in between others. After shower we had dinner and it was followed by a presentation on Pygmy Seahorses, done by our divemaster Hery. By this time we were already on our way to Manuk, where well dive tomorrow, and most of the guests were already in their rooms resting.
Saturday April 15th
In our usual schedule, we started gearing up for the first dive of the day around the island of Manuk, in Big Ridge. With gentle currents and visibility around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet we started the dive along a ridge covered in hard coral and hosting a few huge barrel sponges. On the blue, schooling fusiliers and surgeonfishes were seen, with a few Bumphead Parrotfishes and Dogtooth Tunas passing by. Being this an active volcanic island, some black sand and rocks also were part of the topography and in the shallow the color of the water gets a tone of yellow because of the sulfuric acid dissolved. Manuk is also a famous place for the population of sea snakes living around the island and a few were seen during the dive, including some curious one that would approach the divers who used the opportunity to take pictures and videos.
The following dive happened in Red Cliff, wall that continues into a steep slope that hosts an abundant soft coral garden mixed, in some parts, with fire coral and volcanic rocks. The coloration of some of the coral is relatively red, hence the name of the dive. As for the marine life seen, Tasseled Scorpionfish, nudibranchs, like the Phillydia, Wire Coral Shrimp, Bumphead Parrotfishes, in between others. As an extra, the divers could see that in the deeper part of the reef is formed a forest of gorgonians, quite a sight for afar.
The last dive of the day happened on a site named 8th Wonder. Drifting with the current along a wall, the divers got to spend a lot of time with the inquisitive Sea Snakes (that offer no harm, important to reinforce) since they tend to be more active towards the start and end of the day. Some of them were seen hunting in teams, quite an interesting dive on that perspective. Dogtooth Tuna and Bonito, fusiliers, unicornfishes, surgeonfishes, Spotted Boxfish (juvenile), Tasseled Scorpionfish were some of the other highlights. A great dive to end our visit in Manuk.
With everyone back on board we started our crossing towards the island of Koon, close to the bigger island of Seram, where well dive tomorrow. Dinner, as usual in crossings, happened earlier and after it a presentation on Sharks was done by Urik. This was our last activity together and time was given for rest. Some stayed in the salon, nevertheless, talking or working on their pictures.
Sunday April 16th
With the arrival of a new day we reached the island of Koon, close to the bigger island of Seram. This is where we spent our day of diving, in a large site named Too Many Fish. All the dives offered great visibility (25-30 meters/82-100 feet). The first one happened with a mild current as we started along a steep wall and drifted towards a sandy slope where the dive ended. Along the wall Blue-fin Trevally, Redtooth Triggerfish, Yellowmargin and Giant Moray Eel and schooling fusiliers were seen. As we got closer to the sandy area, a school of Big-Eye Jacks was there.
The following dive was done mostly in the sandy area with impressive coral formations. The currents were stronger and it was a good opportunity to watch some action as the divers used the landscape to their favor. Pick-handle Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks, Snugnose Pompano, Midnight and Red Snappers, batfishes, fusiliers and others were playing around. Besides that, a Green Turtle was also pointed out. A great dive!
Our third dive was done entirely along the wall, hence the currents were relatively strong and we used them to drift along the landscape in a relaxed fashion. Giant Trevally and Blue-fin Trevally, Spanish Mackerel, Dogtooth Tuna were some of the bigger pelagic seen among butterflyfishes, angelfishes, damselfishes, anthias and other colorful families present in this vibrant reef. This was our last dive in the area as we started our crossing towards east, to Triton Bay.
This night we didnt have a night dive and the dinner happened earlier. After dessert Urik shared with our guests some of his underwater photography work done while working as cruise director of the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Finally, most stayed around talking for a while before going to bed.
Monday April 17th
Early in the morning we arrived in the region of Nommon, close to Kaimana (Triton Bay). Our first dive in the morning happened in the Seamount, a huge mass underwater that hosts, besides dense hard coral formations, plenty of schooling fish. A gigantic school of Big-Eye Jacks had the company of Chevron Barracudas, Red and Black Snappers, fusiliers, Giant Trevally, a Great Barracuda and other reef fishes. On top of that Urik had seen a Whale Shark passing by. Quite an impressive, active, dive to start the day!
The following dive happened in Batu Cantik (Beautiful Rock, in Indonesian) and it was the first example of the soft coral abundance that we expect to see while diving in Triton Bay. It was also a great opportunity for macro photography, as Candy Crab, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, flatworms and also a Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse were pointed out by our divemasters. On top of that, Rainbow Runners, Bumphead Parrotfishes and Black Snappers were seen cruising along the reef. The visibility, as it was for the day, was around 10-15 meters/33-45 feet.
Our third dive happened slightly south, in Tanjung Wap, a plateau that extends in between two islets and that descends into a slope. Another site known for its macro life, it had its own highlights, like Hairy Shrimp (carrying an egg!), juvenile lionfish, nudibranchs, like the Notodoris minor, Tasseled Scorpionfish, in between others.
After a dark red sunset along the horizon some of our divers started gearing up for the night dive, done also in Tanjung Wap because of its convenient landscape. Broadclub Cuttlefish, Marbled Shrimp, Decorator Crab and nudibranchs were captured by the cameras. Back on board we gathered in the salon for dinner which was followed by a presentation on the Derawan Archipelago, Raja Ampat Aggressor new diving destination coming July this year! After it a few guests stayed around sharing a drink and chatting while others decided to rest. By this time we were already on our way to Aiduma.
Tuesday April 18th
Arriving early in the morning in Triton Bay, more specifically in the Selat Iris (Iris Strait), we could see the change in the scenery provided by the presence of more vegetation (rain forest) and proximity to main island of Papua. Today we dove around the island of Aiduma, in the north region. The visibility, due to the amount of sediments in the water and possible rain wash from previous days was around 5-10 meters/16-33 feet, hence all dives were focused on looking for macro subjects, something our divemasters excel at.
The first dive site was Little Komodo and, in between the black coral forest, our guests got to see the first Wobbegong Shark of the trip! Along the plentiful and colorful soft coral that grow in the region, nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha, and flatworms were found. Soft Coral and Porcelain Crab and Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp were some of the other findings.
The following dive happened in the neighbor site of Sareanus, where our groups spent most of the dive along a small bay sheltered from the currents that were present during the dive. The highlights of this dive were a Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse (not only one, in fact, since a few were living the gorgonians spread around), nudibranchs, like the Jorunna funebris, and two Broadclub Cuttlefish (juveniles). In fact, one of them was caught attacking a small transparent shrimp!
Next dive was done slightly east, amongst the soft coral garden of Bos Rainbow (also known as Rainbow Rock). Orange, purple, red, yellow, green and mixtures in between those colors were seen by our divers. As for other marine life, a juvenile sweetlips and its peculiar swimming ways, Ringed Pipefish, another Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, a Banana Nudibranch (Notodoris minor) and some other small stuff was seen.
The next dive on the schedule was our night dive, done in Macro Rocks. The main highlight of this dive was the possibility to observe the Triton Bay Epaulette Shark (Hemyscillium henryi), an endemic specie of walking shark from the bay. Two of this nocturnal hunters were found during the dive.
With everyone back on board after shower, we gathered in the salon for dinner, which was followed by a musical number done by our crew. Jasman and Ody, our dinghy drivers, were leading the group playing the guitar and ukulele, respectively! After it Urik shared a presentation on the recently seen Epaulette (Walking) Shark and it was our last activity for the day. After it a few guests stayed around watching a documentary about life on reefs. The boat will sleep in the area tonight.
Wednesday April 19th
Before sunrise we arrived in the southern part of the Aiduma Island, where well dive today. Our first dive site was Larrys Heaven, a rock that presents an underwater curious topography, mixing a sandy bottom with rocks covered and a wall covered in soft coral. The visibility was slightly broader during this dive (around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet) and the currents were mild. Some of the highlights included: Potato Grouper, Leaf and Tasseled Scorpionfish, Yellowmargin Moray Eel, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, in between others.
The following dive happened in Batu Jeruk (Orange Rock, in Indonesian), an islet surrounded by rocks that host plenty of soft coral with the orange coloration, hence the name. As we drifted along part of the reef, Napoleon Wrasse, Bumphead Parrotfish and a few Brown-Marbled Groupers were spotted among the rocks. In the sheltered area, anemone shrimp, crabs, nudibranchs, flatworms and more were pointed out by our divemasters.
Dive number three was done in Christmas Rock, another plentiful soft coral garden and vast black coral forest. With a few rocks surrounded by Glass Sweepers, it was another excellent opportunity for macro photography. Brown-banded Pipefish, Porcelain Crab, Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp, nudibranchs and others. That was not all, though, as we dove the site during the slack tide, the cleaning stations were quite busy, with angelfishes, surgeonfishes, butterflyfishes all using the services of electric cleaning wrasses. On top of that, a couple of Wobbegong Sharks were also seen!
After sunset, we went back to Christmas Rock for our night dive, in order to explore its shallow areas. Along it, Sponge Crabs, Broadclub Cuttlefish, Wobbegong Shark, Hawksbill Turtle and, on top of that, a Bumblebee Shrimp were seen! Back on board we had dinner together and after it a presentation on Sea Turtles was given to the guests as our last activity for the day. By this time we were already on our way to Namatote, towards west.
Thursday April 20th
For our last day of diving, we decided to try our luck and dive under the fishing platforms known as bagans in order to possibly see Whale Sharks. In the bay of Namatote, we spend both of our dives around these structures that, harmlessly and without significantly altering the animals behavior are visited by the biggest fish in the ocean.
We were blessed with the possibility on both of our dives to spend the whole time swimming with a few Whale Sharks that would circle the platform as we hover and contemplate them. As a pleasant surprise, a few dolphins also appeared to spin around our divers. What a great way to finish this trip!
Back on board our guests had shower and met in the salon for lunch. In the meantime our crew took care of the rinsing of their equipment and the start of the drying process. After the meal Urik shared the video he prepared during the week with underwater highlights from this lovely trip.
The guests had then time to rest or start packing before we gathered in the sun deck for a small farewell party, where the crew played some music and spent some time with our divers. It was also an opportunity for photos and distribution of awards and milestones.
As for the last, our guest Cecilia completed 500 dives during this cruise. Congratulations!
For the brave ones who completed all the available dive during the trip, the Aggressor Iron Diver award was given. They were Laura, Murph and Cathy. Cheers!
After, already on our way towards the city of Kaimana, we enjoyed the sunset together, which was followed by dinner. After the meal a slideshow with the pictures taken by our guests was shown and it was the first opportunity to share some fresh memories from our ten days together. Urik then explained the drop-off and check-out procedures and after it most of our guests retired to their staterooms while others stayed around having a laugh.
Friday April 21st
Early in the morning our crew were waiting for the guests in the dive deck in order to bid their farewells and wish all a safe journey back home. Thank you very much for having joined us on this cruise, we hope to see you all back aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor!