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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log 22 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
Chef Assistant: Novita
Dive master: Hery
Dive master: Denny
Deck hand: Jemy
Tender Driver: Jasman
Tender Driver: Ody
Su: Little Komodo, Saruenus, Bos Rainbow, Dua Batu
Mo: Dramai Rock, Christmas Rock, Batu Jeruk, Batu Jeruk
Tu: Bagans, Bagans, Bagans
We: Batu Cantik, The Seamount, The Seamount
Th: T-Bone Reef, The Wall, The Dome, Southern Bay
Fr: Karang Bayangan, Gus Ridge, Yillet Kecil, Romeo
Sa: Karang Bayangan, Boo Window, Nudi Rock, Whale Rock
Su: Grouper Net, Plateau, Love Potion No.9
Mo: Algae Patch #2, Algae Patch #1
GUESTS: Zach, Mike, Will, Gavin, Dean, Susan, Nicole, Mischa, Pati, Tami, Kate, Jessie, Varsha
Saturday April 22nd
On the scheduled timeline our crew was waiting to greet the arriving guests. After a welcome beverage, we proceeded with presenting their staterooms. With some time before lunch, the divers used it to started preparing their dive gear with the help of Hery, Denny and Jemy, our divemasters and deck hand.
Our first meal together followed, a buffet served lunch with Indonesia food. After it Urik, our cruise director, gave a briefing with information about the areas of the boat, facilities available and safety plan. Guests had then time to rest before we met again in the salon for dinner.
Dinner was a menu served welcome meal offered by our chef, Michael, and his assistants, Jemly and Novita. After dessert, Urik informed the guests on the logistics of diving for our vessel. This was our last activity for the day, in order to respect a longer resting time for the guests after a long journey. By this time we were on our way to the northern part of the Aiduma island, in the Iris Strait.
Sunday April 23rd
Before dawn we were already in the northern surroundings of the Aiduma island, located in the Iris Strait, Triton Bay. This is were we spent our day of diving. After a light breakfast our divers started gearing up for the first dive, done in Little Komodo. Swimming among a slope that hosts a dense black coral forest, the divers got to see the first Pygmy Seahorse of the trip, from the species Bargibanti, Oriental, Diagonal-banded and Harlequin Sweetlips and a few flatworms. Towards the second half of the day is when the groups had their first glimpse of the abundant soft coral present in the region, coming in all colors: orange, pink, purple, red, dark blue and green. Among them, nudibranchs and crustaceans were pointed out by our divemasters. All this is our check dive!
Back on board it was time for a full breakfast. Time was given for rest and it was followed by our second dive, done Saruenus. As it was for the whole day, the visibility varied around 10 meters/33 feet and, different from the previous dive, there were some currents presents, which fueled nutrients that opened the soft coral present on this site. Among it, Blue-lined, Two-spot and Spanish Flag Snappers were seen schooling, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Broadclub Cuttlefish (juvenile) were seen hiding and plenty of blennies were pointed out.
The immersion was followed by lunch and a longer surface interval so our guests could relax before the third dive. The dive site chosen was Bos Rainbow, that has a shallow swim through were the divers passed by to finish the dive in another dense soft coral garden. Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Ringed and Brown-banded Pipefish, nudibranchs a variety of coral groupers were some of the sights from this dive.
As the groups returned Anni, Betty and Novita, our stewardesses were waiting with a snack. We had time to rest and enjoy the sunset before the night dive, done in Batu Dua (Two Rocks, in Indonesian). As it usually is in our night divers, the focus was to find hidden critters among coral formation and rocks, and this was a good opportunity for that: Broadclub Cuttlefish, Reef Octopus, Green Moray Eel, Banded-Sea Snake and the endemic Triton Bay Epaulette (Walking) Shark were some of the highlights.
After a warm shower it was time for us to gather in the salon for dinner. Towards the end of the meal the crew entered the room to sing happy birthday to Mischa, our guest who celebrated this special day aboard the vessel! After we cut the cake and the crew, lead by our dinghy drivers Jasman and Ody, played more music, a presentation on the Epaulette Shark was given to the guests, sharing information about this peculiar species. It was our last activity for the day and most of the guests stayed around talking before going to bed. The boat sleeps in north Aiduma tonight.
Monday April 24th
As the sun rose in the sky we arrived in the northern part of the Iris Strait, around the island of Dramai. On one of its corner we did our first dive of the day, in Dramai Rock. The soft coral present in this dive site was a show apart. Different species of it mixed with hard ones and gorgonians that host a wide variety of reef fishes, like damselfishes, anthias, wrasses, etc. Those were seen swimming among jacks, snappers, surgeonfishes, rabbitfishes and more. A great dive to start the day, said our guests!
The second dive of the day was done around the island of Aiduma, in the southern region. The name of the site is Christmas Rock, despite an abundant soft coral garden, the highlight of this site is a vast black coral forest and a few rocks that serve as home to Glassy Sweepers. Hiding among them and pointed out by our divemasters were: Brown-banded Pipefish, Two-spot Lionfish, nudibranchs and also our first Wobbegong Shark! On top of that, schooling Humphead, Blue-lined and Spanish Snappers were seen together with Mimic Goatfishes. Occasional Bumphead Parrotfishes were also caught by our divers cameras.
Our afternoon dive was done in Batu Jeruk (Orange Rock, in Indonesian), that has its name thanks to a vast, dense, orange soft coral garden. With visibility at around 15 meters/50 feet and a mild current, enough to turn the polyps open, this was another fantastic dive today. The corals were fully blossomed and there were plenty of fishes swimming around engaged in different activities, like cleaning, eating and also hiding. Surgeonfishes, rabbitfishes, fusiliers, unicornfishes, Red Snappers, Napoleon Wrasse, Bumphead Parrotfishes and more were some of the examples. But that was not all. Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Wobbegong Shark and even three Eagle Rays were the cherry on the top of this great dive!
After having enjoyed a beautiful rainbow in the sky during the dusk, we started preparing for the night dive, a repeat of Batu Jeruk. Some of the highlights of this dive were Tasseled Scorpionfish, Hermit, Hydroid and Sponge Crabs, Fimbriated Moray, a Hawksbill Turtle and the very same Wobbegong from the previous dive, this dive completely exposed along the bottom.
Having had shower, dinner followed and afterwards Urik shared some information on how to dive around the fishing platforms known as bagans, which present the possibility of diving with the incredible Whale Sharks. In fact, he complemented the information with a presentation about these animals. This was our last activity for the day and afterwards most guests retired to their staterooms to rest after such a beautiful day of diving. By this time we were on way to Namatote already.
Tuesday April 25th
During the night we arrived in Namatote, where we dive this day under the fishing platforms known as bagans. We did three dives around these structures that, harmlessly and without significantly altering the animals behavior, are visited by the biggest fish in the ocean. To our luck, Whale Sharks were seen in all of them, in fact, not only one but up to four during a dive.
Watching them feeding and also playing with the animals that graciously swim among the divers bubbles was a beautiful moment. On top of that, two species of dolphins were sharing the space with our divers during the first dive, grabbing a bite themselves. A plain fantastic experience to be in the water with these magical animals.
Today we didnt have a night dive, since after the dive the vessel started heading towards Mommon, our destination for tomorrow. Dinner happened earlier and after dessert our divemaster Hery introduced a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses, mentioning their habitat and describing the species seen around West Papua, Indonesia. This was our last activity today and after it a few guests retired to their staterooms while others enjoyed the breeze in the sun deck watching the stars.
Wednesday April 26th
We arrived in Mommon with the sun already in the sky and this is where we did our dives this day. The first dive site was Batu Cantik (Beautiful Rock, in Indonesian) a place known for interesting macro photography of subjects that camouflage among the plentiful soft coral that grows around huge rock formations. Some of the findings included: Candy Crab, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, Ribbon Eel, Leaf Scorpionfish and two species of Pygmy Seahorse, the Bargibanti and also a Pontohi!
After having moved slightly north from the previous dive site, we stopped in a place named The Seamount, where we did two dives considering the size of this underwater mass. Among different species of hard coral, like tables, lettuce, staghorn and elkhorn, the reef was teeming with fish life that used the current to feed and hunt. Schooling fusiliers, rabbitfishes, surgeonfishes and playful batfishes that followed the divers around were present. On top of that, bigger pelagic animals like Great Barracuda, Spanish Mackerel, Giant Trevally and also a Giant Grouper were seen. This was not all, a massive school of Big-Eye Jacks that let the groups approach and swim in between them was another highlight. As if it wasnt enough, a group also had the opportunity to see an Oceanic Manta Ray getting clean. Great dives!
After the visit to Mommon we started heading north, towards the group of islands named Pisang, our last stop before Raja Ampat. A few guests enjoyed the opportunity to watch the sunset together and dinner was served earlier. After it, Urik shared a presentation on sharks, talking about their characteristics, behavior and some of the treats they are subject to. This was our last activity for the day and most of the guests retired to their staterooms for rest afterwards.
Thursday April 27th
As we arrive in Pisang, we did our first dive of the day in a site named T-Bone Reef, result of an underwater ridge that, towards its forms a T. Hosting plenty of gorgonians and different kinds of (huge) sponges that mix in between the abundant hard coral, our divers spent most of the dive looking for macro subjects. Some of the findings included: Blue Pipefish, Midnight Snapper (juvenile), nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, Egg-Shell and Crinoid Shrimp and also a juvenile Whitetip Reef Shark sheltered under a table of coral.
Our second dive happened also in the southern group of islands of Pisang on a site named The Wall. Drifting along the formation, the growth of both soft and hard coral was impressive, with feather stars of different colors attached to sponges and gorgonians, it was quite a sight. Some of the marine life seen included: Green and Hawksbill Turtle and quite a lot of smaller creatures, like the Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Popcorn Shrimp, Twin-spot Lionfish, nudibranchs, flatworms and more.
The third dive was done in The Dome, a flat plateau densely covered in xenia soft coral that descends into a slope where gorgonians and rocks inhabited by Glassy Sweepers are abundant. Some of the sights of this dive included: Bicolor Parrotfish (juvenile), Yellowtail Coris (juvenile), Porcelain and Boxer Crab, nudibranchs, like the Chromodoris, and also a couple of smaller Potato Groupers.
Sunset time came among this beautiful group of islets and it was followed by our night dive, done in Southern Bay. As usual, our divemasters spend their time looking for critters, and some of the ones spotted included: nudibranchs, crabs, like the Decorator Crab, shrimps, like the Marbled Shrimp and scorpionfishes. With everyone back on board, we gathered in the salon for dinner, which was followed by a presentation about history, culture and biodiversity of Raja Ampat. After it some guests stayed around the salon and in the sun deck chatting while a few decided to rest. By this time we were already on our way to Misool, South Raja Ampat.
Friday April 28th
Earlier than sunset we arrived in the region known as Warakaraket, our first stop in Raja Ampat. We did our first dive in Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef, in Indonesian), also known as Magic Mountain, one of the most popular sites in the whole archipelago for the wide variety of fish species that visit the seamount and also the fact that it is a Manta Ray cleaning station. With some current bringing nutrients into the water column and visibility of 25-30 meters/82-100 feet, our divers were amazed contemplating Grey and Whitetip Reef Sharks hunting together with Spanish Mackerels, Giant, Blue-fin, Orange-spotted and Blue Trevally and Red Snapper smaller fishes like fusiliers, surgeonfishes, rabbitfishes. On top of that, on the top of the seamount, a school of Big-Eye Jacks, a Wobbegong Shark and, towards the end of the dive, an Oceanic Manta Ray were seen. A magical dive, hence the name of the site!
Our following dive was done slightly towards the east, in a underwater ridge known as Gus Ridge. This place is also known as a Manta Cleaning station and, with similar conditions as in the previous dive, not only one but two Oceanic Manta Rays were seen being cleaned, which offered an opportunity for divers (and photographers) to get slightly closer. Other highlights of this dive, besides the quantity of gorgonians and whip coral that give quite an impression, were Yellowtail and Chevron Barracudas, Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers and also a Giant Grouper seen in cruising in deeper waters.
After the Manta bonanza, our vessel headed north towards the island of Yillet, where we did our first dive in Yillet Kecil, a smaller islet close by that host an extensive soft coral garden of xenia and finger coral (and more). With visibility around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet, it was an opportunity to look for macro subjects and there were not missing: Leaf Scorpionfish, nudibranchs, like the Banana (Notodoris minor), flatworms, Orangutan Crab, Bubble Coral Shrimp and two kinds of Pygmy Seahorse, Bargibanti and Denise color variation (seen so far only in Raja Ampat).
The sunset was very enjoyable and this sunny, calm day and some of the guests used to opportunity to kayak, while others stayed on board having a massage, playing cards or chatting. Our night dive was done in the same area, on a site named Romeo, a plateau that tends to be an excellent spot to see the Epaulette Shark endemic from Raja Ampat. Our groups got to see a couple of them! Besides the sharks, there was more: nudibranchs, anemone shrimps and also a Crocodile Flathead. Back on board and extremely glad after this fantastic day of diving, we had dinner, which was followed by a presentation about the Derawan Islands, Raja Ampat Aggressor next destination coming July this year! This was our last activity of the day and afterwards most retired to their staterooms for rest. The boat sleeps in the area tonight.
Saturday April 29th
To comply with the wishes of our divers, the first morning dive this day was done again in the seamount named Magic Mountain, giving the incredible time the groups had on the same site yesterday. This time was not different, since the currents brought again nutrients in the water and the whole chain was seen in action. Grey, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Jacks, Tunas and Mackerels hunting in immense schools of fusiliers, rabbitfishes, damselfishes and more. This time, though, on the top of the seamount our groups used their times to observe some behavior, as the fishes changed color to get cleaned by the hundreds of cleaner wrasses spread around the reef: Midnight Snapper, Ocean Surgeonfishes, Diagonal-banded Sweetlips and more lined up for that. A great dive overall, again!
Following dive was done in one of the other most celebrated sites of South Raja Ampat, Boo Window. The fame comes from its topography as a colorful ridge runs west-east hosting soft coral, gorgonians, hard coral and, with a gentle current, as it was the case during our dive, schooling fish. On top of that, on the main rock theres a “window” on the wall that serves as a good opportunity for wide angle photography. As for the marine life seen during the dive, Grey Reef Sharks, Bumphead Parrotfishes and also smaller creatures like a few species of nudibranchs, flatworms, Two-Tone Dartfish, Papuan Scorpionfish and more.
Third dive of the day was done in the famous soft coral garden of Nudi Rock, in the micro region of Fiabacet. Due to the strenght of the currents during the day, our groups spend most of the time along the northern wall looking for critters like Crinoid and Wire Coral Shrimp, Soft Coral Pipefish, flatworms, nudibranchs, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and more. The end of the dive happened in a beautiful shallow plateau that hosts a lot of different, colorful soft coral species lighted by the sunny afternoon we had.
After this dive our guests had the opportunity to visit the neighboor Misool Eco Resort and get to know, supervised by one of the resorts staff, the facilities of this beautiful location. The resort, though, is not only a great option of accommodation in Raja Ampat, as their team put a lot of effort to supervise and control the no-take zone delimited in the region and also organize the diving inside it not to avoid pressuring the reefs.
Back from the visit, our night dive happened in the same region on a site known as Whale Rock. The divers spend their time on a relatively shallow plateau covered in rocks and soft coral where critters tend to hide. Some of the highlights included: Boxer Crab, nudibranchs, like the Chromodoris, and also two Broadclub Cuttlefishes. After it we had dinner together which was followed by some music played in the salon as most of the guests stayed around chatting. The boat sleeps on the area tonight.
Sunday April 30th
With the sunrise on the horizon, we arrived at another seamount known as Grouper Net, north from where we have been diving the last two days. This dive can be quite diverse and with the help of our divemasters, our groups to see quite a few highlights: a white Painted Frogfish, Reef Stonefish, Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Hairy Goby and Ringed Pipefish, for example. On top of that, schooling fusiliers from different species swim quite close to the reef, providing a great sight!
The following dive happened in the region of Balbulol, still going north. Plateau is the same of the dive site and it was a great opportunity to look for macro subjects that were captured by our divers cameras: more than five species of nudibranchs, juvenile scorpionfishes, flatworms, Wire and Bubble Coral Shrimp and, on top of that, the endemic Raja Ampat color variation of th Denise Pygmy Seahorse. As if it wasnt enough, some divers got to see a Mobula Ray passing by on the blue while others saw a Wobbegong Shark hiding among the rocks.
Our last dive in the South of Raja Ampat, Misool area, was done in one of its most impressive soft coral gardens, known as Love Potion No. 9. During most of a shallow plateau, the density of the coral cover is so abundant that is barely possible to see any piece of rock. Different colors appear, as blue, purple, pink, orange, red and more are visible. A great site! Some of the marine life seen during the dive included: Banded Sea Snake, Day Octopus, Hawksbill Turtle and smaller creatures, like the Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, five different kinds of flatworms, headshield slug, Hairy Shrimp and even a nocturnal Epaulette Shark. What a dive to finish our visit to this beautiful region!
As we started our crossing towards the south of the island of Batanta, our guests had the opportunity to enjoy the sunset on the deck. Dinner happened earlier and was followed by a presentation on Sea Turtles, talking about species existing in the world and some of their characteristics. This was our last activity for the day and most guests retired to their staterooms afterwards.
Monday May 1st
During the night we arrived in the southeast of Batanta, one of the four main islands of the archipelago. The two dives left in our schedule were muck dives, an opportunity to explore the black sandy slopes that go along the coast looking for critters. Thanks to the eyes of our divemasters, the mission was successful and animals like: Robust and Harlequin Ghost Pipefish, Sea Dragon Pipefish, Devil Scorpionfish, Twin-spot Lionfish and an astonishing amount and variety of nudibranchs were found. Chromodoris, Phyllidia, Glossodoris, Flabellina, Facellina of all kinds and sizes. Great dives to finish this beautiful journey along the west coast of Papua Indonesia.
After the second dive our crew took care of rising the guests dive equipment as they had lunch. After the meal Urik, our cruise director, showed the video he prepared during the trip with footage from some of the wonderful marine life we have seen as of some of the moments we shared on the boat. Following it the guests had some time to rest.
Before sunset we gathered in the salon, guests and crew for the farewell party. It was an opportunity for the staff as a whole to thank our visitors for the trust and also for the band to play a few more songs! Towards the end, our milestones and awards were also distributed.
Tami (100), Susan (200) and Dean (200) reached new milestones during this cruise and were congratulated by all.
As for the divers who completed all the available dives during the cruise, we presented them with the Aggressor Iron Diver. Congratulations Dean and Mischa!
After the festivities we had our last dinner together which was followed by a slideshow with some of the pictures taken by the guests during the trip. Already a time to share some memories! Afterwards Urik detailed the schedule for our check-out and closer the night. Most stayed around interacting while a few already retired to their staterooms for rest.
Tuesday May 2nd
Timely our crew was waiting for the guests in the dive deck in order to bid our farewells and wish all a safe trip back home. It was a great pleasure to spend the last ten days with this group and we hope to see them back aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Bye-bye!