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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *1 June 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Bahri
Cruise Director: Urik
Assistant CD: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Ehra
Chef Assistant: Jemly
Dive master: Denny
Dive master: Jemy
Deck hand: Jasman
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Fr: Friwinbonda, Batu Lima, The Passage, Friwinbonda
Sa: Sardine Reef, Cape Kri, Blue Magic, Saonek Jetty
Su: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo Night
Mo: Citrus Ridge, Mangrove Ridge, Gam Ridge, Yangeffo Mangrove
Tu: Chanel No. 5, White Arrow, Channel Island, Fuel Dock
We: Edis Black Forest, Red Patch Wall, Taman Wofoh, Taman Wofoh
Th: Mayhem I, Manta Sandy, Sawandarek Jetty, Yenbuba Jetty
Fr: Pulau Wai, Pulau Birie, Pulau Yum, Flasherwrasse Bay
Sa: Blue Magic, Mioskon
GUESTS: Mischka, Conny, Randy A., Gary, Tom, Randy K., Andy, Bobbi, Patrick, Lix, Tim, Steve, Kurt, Sylvana, Bernd, Sophie
Thursday June 1st
At the scheduled time our guests arrived on board and were greeted by the crew. Betty and Anni, our stewardess, were waiting for all with a welcome beverage. We then proceeded with the staterooms introduction which was followed by an Indonesian buffet served for lunch by our chef Michael and his assistant, Jemly.
After the meal Urik, our cruise director, did a briefing about the vessel, including her facilities, schedule and safety information. The afternoon was destined for resting and preparation of the dive gear, done with the help of our divemasters, Jemy and Denny.
A beautiful sunset came and, having enjoyed it, our guests then met in the salon for a menu served dinner. It was followed by another briefing by Urik on diving logistics in our liveaboard, preparing the guests for a smooth first day of diving. This was our last activity of the day and, respecting the long journeys our guests travelled, time was given for rest. We are on othe way to the Dampier Strait, our first destination, in Central Raja Ampat.
Friday June 2nd
During the night we arrived around the island of Friwinbonda, in the Dampier Strait, where we did our check dive, after a light breakfast offered early in the morning. Being the first one of the trip, it was an opportunity for the divers to adjust their weight and buoyancy in order to be comfortable for the rest of the cruise. With no currents and visibility around 20 meters/66 feet, our groups slowly cruised along the reef and had the opportunity to see some interesting macro subjects already: Popcorn and Bubble Coral Shrimp, Devil Scorpionfish and our first Pygmy Seahorses, two Bargibanti specimens. Some also got to see a Blacktip Reef Shark patrolling the reef.
As the guests came back on board, full breakfast was served and some rest given. It was followed by our second dive, done at the entrance of the Kabui Bay, in Batu Lima (Five Rocks, in Indonesian). During this dive some of our divers saw the first Wobbegong Shark! It was not all, though, since along the slopping reef critters like Flying Gurnard and Tasseled Scorpionfish were pointed out by our divemasters. On top of that, around the rocks another highlights was the abundance of soft and hard coral. The visibility was around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet and the currents were gentle.
The previous dive was followed by lunch and a longer resting period before the third dive, which happened in a channel between the islands of Gam and Waigeo named The Passage, of Raja Ampats most famous dive sites. The currents, as expected due to the narrowness of the channel, were stronger and offered the divers an opportunity to drift along this exquisite combination of algae, soft and hard coral, sand and rocks. Different species of nudibranchs, like the Phillydia, were seen, together with Bumphead Parrotfishes, Napoleon Wrasses and a few Yellowtail Barracudas.
After the dive we had time to enjoy the sunset, which happened among a cloudy yet beautiful sky, among the dense vegetation of the islands of Gam and Waigeo. Our night dive happened in Friwinbonda and it was a chance to look for macro subject and critters. Some of the findings included Hydroid Crab, Papuan Scorpionfish, Toadfish and the seldom seen Blue-ringed Octopus. A great dive to end our first day!
With the groups returning and after shower, we gathered in the salon for dinner. Once dessert was finished, a presentation on the history, geography and culture of Raja Ampat (and West Papua) was shared with the guests. This was our last activity together and time then was given for rest, when most guests retired to their staterooms. The boat sleeps around Friwinbonda tonight.
Saturday June 3rd
As the sun rose in the sky, we arrived at our first destination of our day, designed to be a tour among three of the most notable, action-packed sites of the Dampier Strait. The first one was a seamount named Sardine Reef and with a east-to-west current, visibility around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, it was also our first show. Schooling fusiliers, batfishes, Giant and Blue-fin Trevallys, Yellowtail and Pick-Handle Barracudas, Red and Black Snapper, Blacktip Reef Sharks and Napoleon Wrasses were all seen chasing and being chased in the current. As our divers drifted along the reef, there was also space for macro subjects, like the Brown-banded Pipefish, flatworms and nudibranchs. A great start to the day.
The following dive was done slightly southeast in Cape Kri, famous for the diversity of fishes it hosts. This dive was not different, as four species of sweetlips were seen (Giant, Oriental, Diagonal-banded and Harlequin) together with Brown-marbled Groupers, Midnight Snappers, schooling batfishes, surgeonfishes, fusiliers, Yellowtail Barracudas and a few patrolling Blacktip Reef Sharks. That was not all, since three considerable Green Turtles (two of them engaged into a friendly dispute over a resting place) were seen quite close by a most of our divers. Macro subjects were not missing as well, and nudibranchs, like the Flabellina and our first Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse were some of the highlights on that regard. All this in visibility of 20-25 meters/66-82 feet and manageable currents!
Third dive reserved an absolutely fantastic moment for our guests. It happened in Blue Magic, another seamount of the region. Coming out of high tide, the currents were gentle and the visibility, again, was good (around 20 meters/66 feet). The quantity and diversity of fishes on this dive was simply astonishing and hard to describe in one paragraph. Schooling fusiliers, cardinalfishes, rabbitfishes, surgeonfishes, batfishes, Yellowtail and Pick-handle Barracudas, Oceanic Triggerfishes, Big-Eye Jacks all involved in some sort of action together with Spanish Mackerels, Dogtooth Tuna, Oriental Bonito, Giant and Blue-fin Trevallys. Patrolling the reef were seen Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Shark and also a Potato Grouper that approached one of the groups so close that it could even be reached if that was the will of the divers. That not all! Giant Morays, Wobbegong Sharks, Leaf Scorpionfish and Crocodile Flathead were some of the other highlights seen on the top of the seamount, covered in hard coral. A mind-blowing dive!
As we sailed towards northeast, in the direction of the island of Saonek, our guests had the opportunity to enjoy the sunset in the water. Our night dive happened in the main jetty of Saonek and it was an excellent opportunity to spot critters and macro subjects. Some of the ones our divemasters pointed out included: Reef Stonefish, Broadclub Cuttlefish (juvenile), Ringed Pipefish, Crocodile Flathead and even a Randall Frogfish!
With everyone back on board we gathered in the salon for dinner. After dessert was finished our divemaster Jemy shared a presentation about the Epaulette Shark, also known as the Walking Shark, which has three species endemic in West Papua, including one in Raja Ampat. This was our last activity of such a beautiful day of diving and most guests decided to rest afterwards. Tonight we cross the Dampier Strait towards the region of Fam and Peneimu.
Sunday June 4th
Another beautiful sunrise in the sky as the divers started preparing for our first dive in the region of Fam & Peneimu, done in Melissas Garden. The fame of this dive site comes from the density and diversity of the hard coral growth that populates its shallow waters, offering shelter for a considerable quantity of smaller fishes, like damselfishes, parrotfishes, wrasses, anthians and more. That was not all today as the conditions (mild currents and visibility around 15 meters/48 feet) turned this dive into a special one. Schooling fusiliers, surgeonfishes and other bait fishes were being actively chased by Orange-spotted Trevallys, Spanish Mackerel and a few Dogtooth Tunas. On top of that, macro life and critters were pointed out by our divemasters, like the Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Ringed Pipefish and also a couple of Wobbegong Sharks. Fantastic dive!
The following dive happened in the neighbor island of Keruo, in Keruo Channel. With conditions similar to the previous dive, another show was on display, as Oriental Tunas were chasing abundant quantity of smaller fishes on top of a reef hosting a vast garden of healthy, huge table corals. As the divers drifted along the channel, the composition of the reef changed, with soft coral being more plentiful and covering the landscape among gorgonians. Among the coral, critters like the Mushroom Coral Pipefish, Porcelain Crab and anemone shrimps were photographed by the divers.
Our third dive of the day happened around the island of Peneimu itself, on a ridge named Galaxy. As it is usually the case on this site, plenty of macro subjects and critters were found, to name a few: Ringed Pipefish, nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha and Flabellina, Mushroom Coral Pipefish and a collection of Pygmy Seahorses, from the Bargibanti, to Denise, including the Raja Ampat color variation of the last. That was not all, though, along the reef another Wobbegong Shark and a pink Giant Frogfish were seen!
After the dive our guests went on a supervised tour to a viewpoint located in Peinemu to contemplate and photograph the beautiful karst landscape formed by the limestone islet on the region. Before coming back to the vessel we had time to pass by a small lagoon and enjoy the silence of this remote place for a bit. Night dive was our next activity and it happened back in the southern part of Keruo, on the site named Keruo Night. A few pleasant surprises came out on this dive, including Broadclub Cuttlefish (adult and juvenile), flatworms, Marbled Shrimp and also Bobtail Squid!
With everyone back on board and having showered, we proceeded with dinner. Once dessert was finished, Urik shared a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses, mentioning the species discovered so far in the world and detailing a bit the habitat and specifications of the ones possibly found in Raja Ampat. This was our last activity for the night and afterwards our guests opted to rest. By this time we were already on our way to Yangeffo.
Monday June 5th
During the night we arrived in the surrounding of Yangeffo and its picturesque mangroves. Our first dive of the day happened in Citrus Ridge, a site that receives this names due to the abundance of soft coral in orange and yellow colorations spread around. With some currents present, this same coral had its polyps open, resulting in an even more impressive sight, even though the visibility was around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet. Some of the marine life seen included schooling Long-Jawed Mackerels, Yellowtail and Chevron Barracudas, Bumphead Parrotfishes, fusiliers, Wobbegong Shark and three Blacktip Reef Sharks rubbing in the sand in order to get cleaned.
The next dive happened in the neighbor Mangrove Ridge, where our groups dedicated their time looking for macro subjects along a sloping reef, protecting themselves from the currents that were present during the dive. Some of the findings by the divemasters included nudibranchs from a few different species, like the Thecacera, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and others. That was not all, though, since a couple of Javanese Cownose Rays were seen passing by.
Following dive was done in Gam Ridge, as the currents slowed down. In the first half of the dive, most of the groups spend their time scanning the sloping reef containing different species of corals, including a few black coral bushes, and gorgonians for critters and macro subjects. Some of the highlights included the Signal Goby, Bubble Coral Shrimp, and nudibranchs. As for pelagic life, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Whitetip Reef Sharks and a Mobula Ray were seen. Another highlight stood for the final part of the dive, where the groups drifted along a plentiful coral garden as they finished the safety stop.
As the night approach in the cloudy skies that were the norm of the day, we started gearing up for the night dive, which happened in Yangeffo Mangrove, a sheltered area. Some of the highlights found included Broadclub Cuttlefish (juvenile), Marbled Shrimp, flatworms and a Pygmy Squid. Back aboard the guests gathered for dinner. After the meal a presentation on Sea Turtles was shared with the guests, mentioned the species living in our oceans, behavioral traces, reproduction and some concern regarding population reduction. The slideshow was our last activity and time to rest followed. Tonight we sail to Aljuy, our first stop in North Raja Ampat.
Tuesday June 6th
As the morning started, we reached the first site of the day, located on the entrance of the Aljuy Bay, where we would dive today. Named after the famous perfume brand, Chanel No. 5 is a wall that descends into a relatively steep slope where the soft, whip coral and algae are plentiful. As it was for the whole day, it was a great opportunity to search for macro subjects, since this bay is regarded as one of the preferable spots for macro dives in the whole archipelago. Some of the findings by our divemasters and guests included: Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Reeftop Pipefish, Egg-Shell Shrimp, nudibranchs, like the Blue Dragon, Spider Crab and others, like the Crocodile Flathead and Banded Sea Snake. The visibility, as it was for the whole day, was in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet.
As we entered further into the bay, approaching the Cendana Pearl Farm, established for more than three decades in the region, the abundance of macro life and soft coral living and growing, respectively, among the sea floor increased. The second dive site was White Arrow, a wall that descends into a slope and offered a good opportunity for a gentle drift dive. Nudibranchs were very abundant on this dive, included Tambja, Phillydia, Glossodoris and Chromodoris. That was not all, as (juvenile) Broadclub Cuttlefish, Signal Gobies, Orangutan Crab, Coleman Shrimp and the seldom seen Whiskered Pipefish were also spotted.
Closer to the pearl farm we did our third dive, in Channel Island, a shallow plateau that descends into a wall where the soft coral, especially in shallow waters, is impressive and colorful, especially in pink tonalities. Plenty of highlights were seen during this beautiful dive, among them: Brown-banded Pipefish, Orangutan Crab, nudibranchs, like the Jorunna funebris, an egg-carrying Mantis Shrimp, Papuan Scorpionfish and also an orange Giant Frogfish. An excellent dive not only for macro lovers, but also for the ones who appreciate gazing at colorful coral formations.
Earlier than usual we started gearing up for our night dive, done in between the two docks of the pearl farm, on a site known as the Fuel Dock. Critters discovered among the sand, rubble, boomies and aslo in between the dock poles included: Bobtail Squid, Solar Powered nudibranch, Waspfish, Zanzibar Wire Coral Shrimp and laying on the open in front of one of the docks a 1,5 meters/5 feet long Wobbegong Shark.
Back aboard was time for us to gather and have dinner in the salon. After the meal Urik shared a presentation about sharks, mentioning its main characteristics, anatomy, reproduction, threats and also helping dismissing our false fear of these amazing creatures. This was our last activity and most of the guests stayed around working on identifying some species spotted along the day. In the morning we start heading towards Wofoh.
Wednesday June 7th
With a few rays of sun in the sky, a rarity in the last two days, we started approaching the island of Wofoh, our diving destination of the day. The first site was Edis Black Forest, home of, as the name suggests, a dense black coral forest, something relatively uncommon to Raja Ampat. The forest was not all, though, as among the bommies surrounded by Glassy Sweepers, Wobbegong Sharks, Giant and Painted Frogfish, Ringed Pipefish, Green Moray were spotted. As the divers reached the shallower part of the reef, the hard coral garden and schooling fusiliers and surgeonfishes made for quite an impression and great ending to this dive.
Second dive happened in the neighbor site known as Red Patch Wall and, wi22th basically no currents, our divers just swam along this wall that ascends into a slope gazing at the abundance of hard coral and elephant ear encrusted sponges. Among them, some of the highlights found included: Cleaner Pipefish, Oranguntan Crab, nudibranchs, like the a (huge) Jorunna funebris, Broadclub Cuttlefish and our first, even though hidden, Epaulette (Walking) Shark! As the sun reached its full brightness towards the end of the dive, the shallows also reserved quite a sight for our groups.
Our third dive happened in the southern island of the region, along its slope that has a garden of hard coral in between two sandy patches where critters can be found. Some of the highlights found along the sandy bottom included Blue-ringed Octopus, (juvenile) Broadclub Cuttlefish, Emperor, Ghost and Coleman Shrimp, Porcelain and Zebra Crab, an endemic specie of Mantis Shrimp and a few nudibranchs.
In between the third and night dives and during sunset, a few of our guests used to opportunity to go kayaking in between the little islets of the region. The beauty of the scenery caught the attention not only of the ones who were paddling but also from the ones who stayed aboard the vessel. The night dive followed and it was done in Taman Wofoh again, due to the quantity of critters seen in the previous day dive. Some of the highlights of this one were, in between others: Reeftop Pipefish, Sponge Crab, (juvenile) Broadclub Cuttlefish, Giant Mantis, Spiny Devilfish, nudibranchs, like the Ceratosoma and a few inverted jellyfishes!
With everyone back from the dive, we had dinner. This evening our attraction was under the responsibility of the crew, led by Jasman and Odi, who played music to our guests. Afterwards Urik showed a slideshow with some of his underwater photography work aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Finally, most of the guests retired to their rooms to rest and prepare for the following day. Tomorrow we head back to Central Raja Ampat!
Thursday June 8th
Before the first rays of sun rose in the clear, blue sky we were already around Yangeffo, where we did our first dive, in a seamount named Mayhem. The name itself comes from the fact that we some current, this can be an action-packed dive, which was the case today. Schooling fusiliers were actively chased by Orange-spotted, Blue-fin, Blue and Giant Trevallys, Dogtooth Tunas and Spanish Mackerel. It was, actually, an opportunity for our groups to listen to the fish thunder, the noise that occurs when a lot of fish move simultaneously. That was not all, as among the hard and soft coral marine life like Napoleon Wrasse, Bumphead Parrotfish, Wobbegong Shark and also a Devil Scorpionfish were seen.
Our following dive happened around the islet of Arborek, on a known Manta Ray cleaning station named Manta Sandy. As it is not the season during this time of the year, we used to opportunity to look for critters. Some of the findings by our divemasters included Signal Goby, flatworms of different kinds, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, and a few different scorpionfishes.
We sailed south towards the island of Mansuar, where we stopped at the village of Sawandarek to dive in their jetty. With a mild current allowing a pleasant drift, this dive was very diverse. Schooling Oriental, Diagonal-banded Sweetlips, Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers, Pick-Handle and Yellowtail Barracudas, Hawksbill Turtles, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Bargibanti and Pontohi Pygmy Seahorses, schooling batfishes, surgeonfishes, rabbitfishes and Big-Eye Jacks and so on... A great dive!
After enjoying the sunset, we started making our to the eastern side of Mansuar, where we dove another jetty, this time from the Yenbuba village. This night dive was another excellent opportunity to spot exquisite critters like: a yellow-colored seahorse, Reef Octopus, Broadclub Cuttlefish, Hydroid Crab, Donald Duck Shrimp and another Epaulette Shark! With everyone back aboard the vessel, time came for dinner, which was followed by a presentation about the Derawan archipelago, in Indonesian Borneo, our Raja Ampat Aggressor new destination for this summer! Afterwards most guests stayed around talking and having fun while others retired to their staterooms. Tomorrow we head to the northern part of Batanta.
Friday June 9th
Early in the morning we reached our first stop on our way to Batanta, in Pulau Wai (pulau standing for island in Indonesian). The reason for us to stop on this islet was to visit a former US Razor airplane wreck from the II World War that rests along the sloping reef. All the groups got to spend some time around the plane, which is still relatively conserved, as the propeller and also machine guns are clearly visible. That was not, since we finish among the dive in shallow waters were some of the marine life seen included (juvenile) Barramundi, Zanzibar Wire Coral Shrimp, Bumphead Parrotfish, in between others.
Our second and third dives happened already in Batanta, in the islands of Birie and Yum and were both muck dives, as the divers spend their time looking for critters among the sand, algae and patches of hard coral. Some of the findings in between the dives included: Spiny Devilfish, Zebra Eel, Reeftop Pipefish, nudibranchs, flatworms, Razorfish and the seldom seen Hairy Octopus!
This day we changed slightly the schedule and without a night dive, the groups went on a sunset dive instead trying to look for some peculiar animals. It ended up being an absolutely fantastic dive, as the guests could witness Mandarin fishes, the endemic Fak Fak Flasherwrasse, juvenile Broadclub Cuttlefish and also an Ocellated Frogfish.
With everyone back on board, dinner also happened earlier and it was followed by a presentation about Manta Rays, mentioning the two identified species in the world so far, some of their behavioral traits and threats due to human activity, mostly fishing. That was all for the night and most of the guests stayed around talking and enjoying the moon, which has been full latelly. By this time we were already on our way back to the Dampier Strait, our last diving destination.
Saturday June 10th
Another sunrise started shining as our guests prepared for our first dive, a repeat of the seamount named Blue Magic, one of the most stunning of our dives on the trip so far. Fortunately, with a mild current resulting from a ebbing tide and visibility in around 15 meters/50 feet, it was another fantastic where the divers could contemplate schooling fish in action. Pick-handle and Yellowtail Barracudas, Spanish Mackerels, cardinalfishes, fusiliers, Black and Midnight Snappers, Big-Eye Jacks and two Dogtooth Tunas were all involved on it. On the top of the seamount a few critters were also pointed out by our divemasters, including two Leaf Scorpionfishes (white and pink coloration), Crocodile Flathead and even an Epaulette Shark hiding among the hard coral. A beautiful dive!
Our last dive left nothing to wish for: a pleasant drift along the sloping reef of Mioskon. Schooling fusiliers, batfish, Red Snappers, Napoleon Wrasse and a horde of Spanish Mackerels were seen passing on the blue. Along the reef, a considerable congregation of Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers amazed the divers as they swam into the fish bowl and took pictures and videos of it. Some critters were also pointed out, like elysium flatworm, Orangutan Crab, Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse and a few different species of nudibranchs. A lovely way to finish a great trip!
With everyone back aboard, the crew took care of the rinsing and hanging of our guests dive equipment as they had lunch. Afterwards time was given to rest, enjoy the bright sun or even pack for a few. At our usual schedule, we had the farewell party on the sun deck, when the crew played a few songs to our guests and used this encounter as an opportunity to thank all for their visit aboard our vessel and take some photos together.
It was also an opportunity to recognize milestones reached during the trip and distribute our Aggressor Iron Diver medals.
During the trip, Mischka completed his 200th dive. Congratulations!
As for our iron divers, there were plenty of them: Mischka, Conny, Randy A., Gary, Randy K., Andy, Bobbi, Tim and Steve. Congratulations on completed all available dives during our cruise.
Sunset came as we arrived in the port of Sorong and our guests were out to fully enjoy it together. Afterwards we had our last dinner together and it was followed by a slideshow with pictures taken by the guests during the cruise as an opportunity to already start sharing some memories and reviewing some of the highlights. This was our last activity together and it was followed by some words by Urik, thanking this great groups for the visit. Most of the guests then stayed around talking while others finished packing or opted to rest.
Sunday June 11th
Early in the morning our crew was ready to help our guests with suitcases and also waiting to bid their farewells. We wish all a safe journey back home and truthfully expect to see them back aboard the Raja Ampat Agressor sometime in the future.
Thank you guys! Happy bubbles!