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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *27 July 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdy
Cruise Director: Urik
Assistant CD: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Chef Assistant: Intan
Dive master: Jemy
Dive master: Hery
Tender Driver: Ody
Tender Driver: Jasman
Fr: Manta Play, Manta Road, Ketuts Rock
Sa: Barracuda Point, Barracuda Point, Three Island Wall
Su: Bagans, Bagans, Heaven Reef, Devil Slope
Mo: Exp. #1, Exp. #2, Exp. #3, Exp. #4
Tu: Fusiliers, The Channel, Small Fish Country, Lagoon
We: Leo Point, Big Fish Country, Jack Point, Gorgonzola
Th: The Corner, Three Islands Wall, Gorgonian Wall, Kakaban Jetty
Fr: Manta Point, Manta Clean, Jetty Panjang, Jetty Panjang
Sa: Jetty Resort, Jetty Resort
GUESTS: Harpo, Curt, Frauke, Thomas, Varina, Blanca, Jesus, Cin, Duarte, Serge, Nina
Thursday July 27th
At the scheduled time our guests were greeted by the crew and transported to the vessel. After a welcome drink all were introduced to their staterooms where they could start getting acquainted to the accommodation. This was followed by the first buffet lunch, an Indonesian meal prepared by Jemly, the chef, and his assistant, Intan.
Urik, our cruise director, then shared a presentation about the vessel and its areas, covering the facilities and safety plan on board. The afternoon was destined for resting and finishing preparing the dive gear with the help of Jemy and Hery, the divemasters.
As we started sailing out of Tarakan, we got to enjoy a beautiful, vibrant pink, sunset that was followed by a menu served dinner. Respecting the fact that most guests went through a long journey prior to arrival, Urik shared a brief presentation about diving logistics within the operation of the vessel and the crew members also formally introduced themselves. This was our last activity for the night and most opted to rest afterwards.
Friday July 28th
It was still dark when we reached the island of Sangalaki, our first destination in the Derawan archipelago. The first dives were done on dive sites with similar topography known as Manta Play and Manta Road, both gentle coral slopes with a few sandy patches that reflect the sun light and cause quite an impression. The visibility, as it was for the day, was in between 10-15 meters/33-50 feet and the currents were quite mild. In both dives, though, our divers got to see a few Reef Manta Rays hovering on top of the reef, some getting quite close! That was not all, though, as some macro subjects were also pointed out by the divemasters: Porcelain and Spider Crab, Whitecap Shrimpgoby and (juvenile) Painted Spiny Lobster.
The third dive of the day was done in one of the most impressive coral gardens of the archipelago, Ketuts Rock. The diversity and density of both hard and soft coral species was astonishing and hosted different species of reef fishes like Parrotfish, Wrasses, Anthias, Damselfish of a vast array of colors. As a surprise, a couple of Green and Hawksbill Turtles and other couple Manta Rays were seen passing by. A very pleasant dive!
Sunset came to end what was a sunny day with calm waters and our guests got to enjoy it along with a sea breeze. Tonight there wasnt night dive as we headed to the island of Sangalaki to join the release of sea turtles in the water (done at night to diminish exposure to predators). Sangalaki, in fact, is known as the biggest nesting site of Green Turtles in Indonesia!
Back on board it was time for dinner. The meal was followed by a presentation about the archipelago of Derawan, detailing its location, mentioning some of the landscape traces and marine highlights. After it a few guests stayed around talking while others opted for an early rest. Tomorrow we head to Kakaban!
Saturday July 29th
Before the sun was bright in the sky as a beautiful sunrise took place, we were already around Kakaban, our destination for the day. Both our day dives were done in one of Derawans most remarkable dive sites: Barracuda Point. As the currents were pushing, our divers drifted along a slope that descends into a wall while watching for pelagic life in the blue water (visibility of 25-30 meters/82-100 feet) and got to see Spanish Mackerels, Grey and Whitetip Reef Sharks from quite a close angle as these majestic swimmers chased schooling fusiliers and surgeonfish. That was not all, though, and the highlight of those dives was to watch a huge school of Big-Eye Jacks together with Chevron Barracudas! To finish the dive, a relaxing swim along a soft coral covered wall that ascends into a shallow plateau where hard coral is abundant and smaller reef fish (butterfly, drummers, anthias and wrasses) hover. Two juvenile Whitetip Reef Sharks and a few Hawksbill and Green Turtles were also seen at the end of those dives.
In between the dives our guests had the opportunity to go, along with members of the crew, on a visit to the biggest jellyfish lake in the world in Kakaban. Three species of jellyfish are seen there: Golden, Moon and Cassiopea (also known as upside down) and they are quite abundant. Some of the guests classified the swim as relaxing as a day on a spa and we saw a lot of smiles as everyone returned on board.
Among another afternoon of calm waters we got to enjoy the sunset that reflects its colors in the ocean while hiding among the clouds on the horizon. This was followed by our night dive, done in Three Island Wall. As it is the case with most of our night dives, the focus was to look for critters that leave their burrows during the night to hunt and the divemasters spotted, in between others: Broadclub Cuttlefish, both juvenile and adult, Decorator and Hydroid Crabs, Blue-spotted Ribbontail Stingray and Marbled Shrimp.
With everyone back to the vessel and having showered, we gathered in the salon for dinner. Afterwards Urik shared a presentation about whale sharks, mentioning some of its biological characteristics and also talking about divers behavior when diving with these incredible creatures. This was our last activity of the day and a few guests stayed around for a drink and talk while the others opted to rest. By this time we were on our way to Talisayan, closer to Borneo mainland.
Sunday July 30th
The vessel reached the waters around Talisayan before sunrise, which the guests could enjoy among a flat sea. The reason we left the archipelago to visit this location is due to the possibility of diving under fishing platforms known as bagans, a place often visited by Whale Sharks. Our two morning dives were done below them and both were absolutely spectacular. During the first one, five Whale Sharks (the largest measuring up to 4 meters/13 feet) were hovering around our divers heads putting quite a show. The following dive had four of them (three being the same) and a special moment, when one of the animals forgot about the fishing platform and went on a slow swim in circles with the whole group. Such an amazing, special experience with these giant, yet so gentle and kind, creatures! As a side note, all sharks were males.
After an emotional, fantastic morning we started heading east towards a seamount where we did our following two dives. The first one was done along the finger reef named Heaven Reef, a place that hosts a dense, colorful coral garden of both hard and soft species, especially along shallower waters. With almost no current and visibility around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet, our divers got to see some of the highlights pointed out by our divemasters, that included: Popcorn Shrimp, Orangutan Crab, Ringed Pipefish, a Giant Frogfish and our first Pygmy Seahorse of the trip, a Bargibanti!
Night dive happened in the neighbor site known as Devil Slope, a sandy slope where some bommies and other rocky formations offer the possibility of finding critters. Some of the ones discovered on this dive were: Decorator Crabs, Snowflake Moray, flatworms, nudibranchs, (juvenile) Broadclub Cuttlefish and more.
Back on board we had dinner together. The meal was followed by a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses, which our divemaster Hery shared with the guests. By this time we were already on our way further south, where well explore the islands of Bilang Bilang and Mataha.
Monday July 31st
We started our exploration with another lovely sunrise, as it has been the rule during the week so far. Along the day, we had the opportunity to dive along a slope, a wall and a huge seamount, each one with different characteristics and peculiarities when it comes to marine life seen. The islands explored were Bilang Bilang, Mataha, including a neighbor seamount and finally Sambit, where we did our night dive.
The first dive was done along a sandy slope that hosts some rocky formations and sponge concentrations along the bottom. The currents were pushing the divers on a fast, relaxing drift with visibility of around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet. Some of the marine life included Whitetip Reef Shark, schooling banner, batf and surgeonfish and a few sweetlips, including Giant, Oriental and Diagonal-Banded. What stood out also was the quantity of Hawksbill Turtles seen, due to the fact that both islands are nurseries for this specie.
Following dive was done along a wall that hosts quite a wide variety of colorful sponges that caused quite an impression seen in overhangs. The coral formations, especially gorgonians, were also more impressive on this site. The marine life seen included, again, sweetlips, batfish and a huge amount of Sargeant Majors hovering in shallow waters. Some macro subjects were also found by our divemasters, including nudibranchs from different species and Orangutan Crab.
The afternoon dive, though, reserved possibly the most pleasant surprise of the day. The huge seamount visited by the groups hosts what is possibly one of the denser, most pristine coral formations of the whole archipelago. Huge gorgonians in vibrant colors, concentrations of acropora species, encrusted hard coral and some soft species were all present. All this along a few sandy patches that reflect light from the sun and cause quite an impression. The fish life was also relatively rich, with different species of triggerfish, fusilier, surgeonfish, unicornfish and others seen. A few pelagic like Jobfish and Spanish Mackerel were also seen around as well as a Marbled Ray. Hawksbill Turtles as well. A great dive!
Sunset came along with a southern wind and after the last rays of light could be seen in the horizon the divers started gearing up for the night dive, done around Sambit. Drifting along a sandy slope, some of the marine life seen included Reef Octopus, (juvenile) Broadclub Cuttlefish, Spotfin Lionfish and nudibranchs.
Back on board was time for shower and dinner Today we had a special dessert, though: a birthday cake to Harpo, who was celebrating his birthday among us, congratulations! Our meal was followed Urik sharing a presentation about Sea Turtles, mentioning living species and some of their characteristics, reproduction of the genus and also threats to their existence. After that most of the guests stayed around chatting, which is usually the case with this fun group and afterwards was time to rest.
Tuesday August 1st
The vessel was already in Maratua when the day started and after a light breakfast we started gearing up for the first morning dive, done in Fusiliers, a wall that extends in a sandy deep plateau. What stands out on this drift dive is the quantity of fish seen at any given moment along the wall. Fusiliers, surgeon, trigger, butterfly and other smaller species are actively chased by a few Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Jobfish and Red Snappers. Yellowtail Barracuda, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks were also seen. But the highlight was definitely the school of Chevron Barracuda hovering just above the plateau towards the end of the dive. Currents were present, but quite manageable and visibility, as it was for the whole day, was 30+ meters/100+ feet.
Our following dive was possibly in one of the most known sites of the Derawan archipelago: The Channel. Due to the moon phase, the currents that usually tend to be relatively strong, were quite mild and our divers got to enjoy at ease a mind-blowing school of Chevron Barracuda for more than 40 minutes, swimming along it and watching as they circle forming a tornado shape, characteristic of this specie. That was not all, as Dogtooth Tunas, Eagle Ray, Black Snappers, Green Turtle were also seen. A fantastic moment!
Third dive of the day was done in a place named Small Fish Country, a relaxing one. With a mild current and outstanding visibility, our divers got to cruise along a wide variety of smaller, colorful fishes while watching the beautiful coral formations along the wall. What stands out on a dive in this site, especially on its shallow waters, its the quantity of Sea Turtles that can be seen, both Green and Hawksbill. Some counted up to 32 of them! That was not all, by the way, as Eagle Ray, Dogtooth Tuna and even a Leopard Shark were seen!
With the ocean flat like a lake, the sunset was, again, quite an experience in itself. It was followed by the night dive in a lagoon among lush green vegetation and small sandy islets that attracted the lenses and eyes of our guests. Some of the highlights seen included: Giant Mantis, Sponge Crab and Blue-spotted Ribbontail Stingray.
With everyone back on the vessel, dinner was served. It was followed by a presentation of the crew, who played some music to our guests with Jasman on the guitar and Ody playing the Ukulele, while others helped. Afterwards Urik shared with the guests some of his underwater photography work done on board of the Raja Ampat Aggressor. This was our last activity for the day and time for rest was then given. The boat sleeps in Maratua tonight.
Wednesday August 2nd
We woke up in the sheltered lagoon in southern Maratua from where we headed to our first site of the day, Leo Point, a mix between sloping reef and straight wall where hard coral grows in abundance. Hovering and sheltering among the formations were cardinal, damself, butterfly and other smaller reef fish. Eventually a few Bumphead Parrotfish were also seen munching on the rocks for algae whereas some Blacktip Reef Sharks patrolled a plateau in relatively deeper waters.
Our following dive happened in the wall named Big Fish Country, the one that precedes The Channel, where our groups finished the dive among the immense school of Chevron Barracudas that mixed with Black Snappers and occasional Dogtooth Tunas. Along the wall Eagle Ray, Reef Octopus, Zanzibar Wire Coral Shrimp and other animals were seen. One of the groups also got to see a bigger shark which identification proved tentative. Our divemasters, though, were sure it wasnt a Grey Reef.
Another afternoon of lake-like waters came as we dove along Jack Point, a steep slope that descends into a wall teeming with small reef fish. Similar to the third dive on the previous dive was the quantity of sea turtles, sometimes almost overwhelming to our divers! That was not all, as different kinds and colors of anemones were also subject of photography and a few nudibranchs popped out. But what really stood out on this dive was the whole scenery of a considerable quantity of fish hovering along a colorful reef illuminated by a bright sun in the sky.
Back on board we had plenty of time to enjoy the sunset and start gearing up for the night dive, done in the northern corner of Maratua, in Gorgonzola. As for the critters and macro subjects pointed out by the divemasters, some of the highlights included: (juvenile) scorpionfish, Twin-spot Lionfish, Marbled Shrimp and Hydroid Crab.
As everyone got ready dinner was served in the salon. It was followed by a presentation on barracudas, animals that have been seen so frequently by our divers lately. This was our last activity for the day and most guests retired to rest. Tomorrow we head to Kakaban!
Thursday August 3rd
The sun was not yet in the sky as we arrived in the northeastern part of Kakaban, where we dove around The Corner. Along a wall filled with gorgonians, hydroid and a few sponges, our divers swam calmly watching the smaller fishes like anthias, wrasses and parrotfish play around the reef as fusiliers, surgeonfish, unicornfish and a solitary Whitetip Reef Shark were seen cruising. Another highlight was a small Hawksbill Turtle that didnt seem to be bothered at all by divers, allowing our guests to spend time with it.
Our following dive happened along Three Islands Wall, where the topography itself already deserves attention from the divers, considering that this wall descends into a few deep overhangs where sponges grow aplenty. As for the marine life seen, Blacktip, Whitetip and Grey Reef Shark as well as an Eagle Ray were some of the pelagic life. But the greatest highlight was the possibility to see five Scalloped Hammerheads in shallower, colder waters, which some of our divers had!
The third dive of today was a special one, considering the amount of light in the sky and the beauty of the coral formations along the Gorgonian Wall, which clearly receives the name due to the amount and also size of the sea fans it hosts. Along the blue, a few special highlights were seen, like Leopard Shark, Napoleon Wrasse and a whole school of Oriental Bonito! Along the reef, teeming with smaller life, two juvenile Whitetip Reef Sharks were pointed out by our divemasters.
Sunrise came and went and our guests started gearing up for the night dive, done in the jetty of Kakaban. The divemasters pointed out some highlights like: Broadclub Cuttlefish, Marbled Shrim, Red-dotted Guard Crab and Hydroid Crab.
Back from the dive we had our dinner on the salon. Urik then shared a presentation about Manta Rays and afterwards most guests stayed around chatting. Tomorrow we dive in Sangalaki.
Friday August 4th
Having arrived in Sangalaki on the previous night already, we enjoyed the dawn before gearing up for the first dive of the day, done in Manta Point. As it was with the two morning dives, done in sites known as places visited by Manta Rays, unfortunately in neither opportunities the graceful animals have shown up. That didnt keep our divers to enjoy a beautiful, diverse coral garden on this dive, where Reef Octopus, Porcelain Crab, different species of Angelfish and more was also seen. A pleasant start of the day, with non-existent currents and visibility around 10 meters/33 feet.
The following dive, in Manta Clean, had a little bit of current present but also visibility around 20 meters/66 feet, which, coupled with the light from the sun reflecting in the sandy patches, caused quite an impression among the divers. Some of the highlights in terms of marine life included Broadclub Cuttlefish, schooling fusiliers and rabbitfish and also a giant sleepy Green Turtle, in between others, like the Hairy Shrimp, a seldom seen creature.
Our afternoon dive was done on the other side of the island around the Jetty Panjang (Long Jetty, in Indonesian) and what stood out was the landscape itself, where plenty of hard coral populate the reef, hosting small reef fishes and critters. Along a plateau, a huge rock surrounded by Glassy Sweepers also reserved a few surprises, like Whitecap and Signal Goby, Ringed Pipefish and Wire Coral Shrimp.
The sunset happened cloudy today and after it we started gearing up for the night dive, also done in the jetty. Some of the highlights seen included: Pygmy Squid, Painted Frogfish and mating Broadclub Cuttlefish!
Back on board was time for shower and dinner, served on time on the salon. Afterwards Urik shared a presentation about sharks, mentioning their anatomy, behavior, reproduction and other characteristics. Afterwards most guests retired to their staterooms for rest. Tomorrow we dive in Derawan, our last stop in the archipelago.
Saturday August 5th
We started out last diving day around the island of Derawan, where we did two much dives looking for exquisite, camouflaged critters. The site chosen was the Jetty Resort and our divemasters worked hard to find some hidden animals. In between them: Reef Stonefish, Crocodile Flathead, Signal Goby and more than 10 species of nudibranchs!
As our guests showered and had lunch, the crew took care of the rinsing and hanging of all dive equipment. After lunch Urik shared the video he produced during the cruise with some of the highlights in and out of the water. Finally time was rest came before our farewell party.
The party happened in the sun deck and was an opportunity for the crew to thank our guests and spend some time with them, besides also time for photos and distribution of awards.
Our milestone divers during the trip were Thomas (100), Duarte (200), Harpo (500) and Jesus (600). Congratulations!
As for our Aggressor Iron Divers, the names were Curt, Thomas, Blanca, Cin and Serge. Good job!
Sunset came and was followed by a signature dinner offered by the chef. After it Urik explained the check-out procedure and a slideshow was shared with the pictures and video taken by the divers during the last ten days. Afterwards most stayed around talking and having some fun.
Sunday August 6th
Early in the morning the crew was already waiting for our guests in order to bid their farewells and wish a safe journey back home. We hope to see them all on board the Raja Ampat Aggressor in some of our other destinations! Have a safe trip guys!!!