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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *22 November 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 27 C - 30 C
Cruise Director: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Chef Assistant: Intan
Dive master: Hery
Dive master: Hawei
Dive master: Jemy
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Deck hand: Jasman
Th: Friwinbonda Sardines Reef, Cape Kri, Yanbuba Jetty
Fr: Melissa s Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo Night
Sa: Mayhem I, Citrus Ridge, Gam Ridge, Mangrove Slope
Su: Mayhem II, Manta Sandy, Sawandarek Jetty, Sawandarek Jetty
Mo: Cape Mansuar, Cape Kri, Chicken Reef, Mioskon
Tu: Blue Magic, Blue Magic
GUESTS: Louie, Ernie, Rylan, Mitch, Thani, Vikas, Ali, Abdulla, Mohammed
Wednesday November 22nd
At our usual time our guests arrived on board and were greeted by the crew. With a welcome drink on their hands, they were introduced to respective staterooms and after getting acquainted to it, we gathered in the salon for our first meal together, prepared by the chef Jemly and his assistant Intan. After it, a briefed about the boat, mentioning its characteristics, detailed its areas and indicating some rules were shared with our guests.
During the afternoon, with the help of Jemy, Hery and Hawei, the divemasters, our divers set up their equipment and had time to rest. Sunset came to close a the day and with the night came time for an early dinner. As everyone finished dessert, another briefing was done, this time indicating the diving logistics from our vessel in order to have the guests prepared for tomorrow. It was also an opportunity for the crew to formally introduce themselves, which always generated a nice round of applause!
Respecting the long journey most of our guests had to go through in order to arrive to West Papua, this was our last activity for the day and afterwards most retired to their staterooms for rest. By this time we were already on our way towards the Dampier Strait, our first destination in the archipelago of Raja Ampat.
Thursday November 23rd
With the sun already in the sky, we arrived at our destination. After having had a light buffet-served breakfast early in the morning, our divers started gearing up for the check dive, done in Friwinbonda, a, fringing reef where both soft and hard coral mix well with the san patches creating a beautiful impression for the ones who visit them. It was an opportunity for everyone to adjust their buoyancy and start getting back into the rhythm of diving. The marine life pointed out by the divemasters included Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorses, the first ones of the trip. Bumphead Parrotfish, schooling Blue-lined and Two-spotted Snappers also brought light to the first dive.
As the last group returned back on board, the bell rang for us to gather in the salon and have a full breakfast, ordered earlier. After the meal our guests had time for a short rest before the preparation for the second dive started. The site chosen was Sardines Reef, one of Dampier s most known locations, a seamount where usually considerable schools of fish congregate. This time our divers got to see some of the peculiar species of this region, including the first Wobbegong Shark! Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks were also seen patrolling the reef, as Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and others critters hidden among rocky formations where corals thrive and Glassy Sweepers dance. The currents, as on the previous dives, were relatively gentle and visibility was in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet.
When the last diver was back aboard, time came for the buffet-served lunch, one of our Indonesian meals! It was followed by a longer period of rest, that most guests decided to have on the sun deck or in their staterooms. The bell then rang for the third dive, in the previously holder of the world record for species of fish identified in one single dive: Cape Kri. The currents this time were stronger but due to the dive plan they were managed so our divers got to drift along a steep slope where rocks host diverse corals and fish, including Oriental, Giant and Harlequin Sweetlips. This was not all for the marine life: schooling Big-Eye Jacks and Pick-handle Barracudas as well as Blacktip Reef Sharks were mentioned among our guests as they returned. On top of that, a Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse was also pointed out!
Noci and Maria, our stewardess, were waiting for the groups with a snack and some ginger tea as they came back. What followed was some time to relax and enjoy the sunset behind the island of Mansuar, where the boat was anchored. For the ones who decided to join it, the bell rang for the night dive, done in the hetty of the village of Yanbubba. Here, among hard coral and rocky formation, the divemasters dedicated their efforts into looking for critters and macro subjects, finding the likes of Pygmy Squid, Crocodile Flathead and another Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse.
As our night divers returned aboard and had shower, dinner was served. Once the dessert was finished, a presentation mentioning some aspects of the history, culture and nature of Raja Ampat was given. What followed was time for rest when most guests decided to go to bed. The boat sleeps in the region tonight before we head towards Fam and Peneimu, our location for tomorrow.
Friday November 24th
We woke up with a picturesque sunrise along the horizon as we arrived in the surroundings of Fam and Peneimu, where we spend the day of diving. Our first dive was done in one of the archipelago most illustrious site: Melissa s Gardent. With the currents relatively mild and the visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, our divers got to enjoy the beauty of this extensive, healthy hard coral garden as a whole, including when schooling fusiliers danced on top of the reef together with damsel, butterfly, parrotfish and anthias. On top of that, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Yellowtail Barracudas, Giant Trevallys and Napoleon Wrasses were seen on the hunt. A fantastic dive to start the day!
As the vessel moved northwest from the previous dive site and arrived close to the island of Keruo, we started gearing up for the next dive, on the island s channel. As the currents increased, the groups got to experience a relax drift along the wall while watching Whitetip Reef Shark, Hawksbill Turtle, Blue-lined Snappers and Big-Eye Jacks. Towards the end of the dive, on the site s impressive hard coral garden in shallow waters, critters were also found, like the Mushroom Coral Pipefish, dancing anemone shrimps and also a Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse.
Our third dive happened along a ridge named Galaxy, north from the previous location and close to Peneimu island. This site usually offers plenty of macro phtoography opportunities and this time was not different, with Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse being spotted and a few different species of nudibranchs. On top of that, due to the southeast currents carried over the reef, plenty of action was seen on the upper part of the ridge and a few of our lucky guests had the chance to see a Thresher Shark passing by, a rare site in the archipelago!
Once we returned to the island of Keruo, our guests had the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic sunset this region usually hosts before the preparations for the night dive began, in Keruo Night. Drifting along the sandy slope, critters were what all were looking after and some of the findings included nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, Decorator and Hydroid Crab and small cutttlefish.
When everyone had showered, the bell rang for our Italian dinner and as the dessert was finished, it was time for a presentation about Raja Ampat Aggressor s summer destination, the Derawan Islands, to be shared. Most of the guests decided to rest afterwards while a few stayed up working on their cameras and carried on watching a movie. By this time we were already in the region of Yangeffo, our diving location for tomorrow.
Saturday November 25th
Along the night we arrived in the waters around Yangeffo, northeast from our previous spot. Early in the morning, still anchored outside of the mangroves which turn this region one of Central Raja Ampat s most picturesque scenes, we started preparing for the first dive, done in Mayhem I, a seamount where huge congregations of fish tend to happen and where the mixture of hard and soft coral along rocky formation and sandy patches cause quite an impression. With a gentle northern current and visibility around 20 meters/66 feet, our groups had a fantastic dive that started with all witnessing the action unfold on the split point as Giant Trevallys, Spanish Mackerel and Bonito Tunas actively chased fusiliers, surgeon and triggerfish. As the drift continues, schooling Big-Eye Jacks, Pick-handle Barracudas and other marine life like the Wobbegong Shark and Bumphead Parrotfish were also pointed out.
After arriving inside the magrove channels, we started gearing up for the following dive, done in Citrus Ridge, which receives this name due to the abundant, vibrant orange and fluorescent green soft coral it hosts. With the currents slightly stronger and visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, it was another pleasant dive and the groups got to see a few aggregations of batfish, schooling Big-Eye Jacks, Chevron Barracudas and fusiliers, besides contemplating the reef itself, where the coral growth is populated by all sorts of small fish, including plenty of Glassy Sweepers that hide secrets like the Wobbegong Shark. Towards the end, a friendly Hawksbill Turtle was also seen by some of our divers munching along the reef.
The third dive happened on the other side of the same channel, in Gam Ridge, another fantastic soft coral reef. Our dive started along a sandy slope where rocky formations serve as home for plenty of Signal Gobys. Towards the second half of the dive, our groups could drift along a wall covered in sponges and coral and look for critters hide among it, including Candy and Porcelain Crab, Mantis Shrimp, Tasseled Scorpionfish and more.
Today our last dive happened earlier, during the sunset, as we tried our luck in order to see the animals who are active during this time of the day. The try paid off, as all groups got to see a few of the wonderful Mandarinfish, a dragonet with vibrant, bright colors, considered by some the most beautiful fish in the world . On top of that, the seldom seen Flasherwrasse was spotted in his mating rituals and one of the groups even got to see a Thorny Seahorse! Great dive to end the day in the Magrove Slope.
With everyone back on board, we had dinner slightly earlier and it was followed by an appearance of the crew, who sang a few songs to our guests, led by the deck hand Jasman and captain Ervanto. After the show, the divemaster Hery shared a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses, mentioning the species seen in the world and the ones most commonly spotted in Indonesian (we have already seen four of all seven on this trip alone!). Most guests opted to rest afterwards. The boat sleeps in Yangeffo tonight.
Sunday November 26th
We woke up already on the way out of Yangeffo s mangroves, making a stop on another one of it s outer seamounts: Mayhem II. With conditions similar to the first dive the day before (mild currents and visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet), it was another active dive, where schooling fusiliers, trigger and surgeonfish were seen being chased by trevallys, tunas and mackerels. Besides that, patrolling the reef were seen Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks and not less than four Wobbegong Sharks! As the divers reached the end of the seamount and found shelter, the divemasters pointed out a few highlights, including Blue-spotted Stingray, Tasseled Scorpionfish and nudibranchs.
With wind arriving for the first time during the trip, we moved the vessel towards the south, in the surroundings of the small island of Arborek. Here, we visited one of Raja Ampat s most celebrated Manta Ray cleaning stations: Manta Sandy. A sandy channel where a few rocky formations host sparse hard coral, our divers got to witness up to six Reef Manta Rays taking turns in the cleaning stations and providing quite a show to the guests. A great experience overall , said one, as the groups returned from the water.
Further south we anchored the boat in front of the village of Sawandarek, in the island of Mansuar. The third dive happened in the surroundings of its jetty and, with the currents being a non-factor and visibility around 15 meters/50 feet, it was a fantastic, diverse dive. Green and Hawksbill Turtle, Wobbegong Shark, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Shark, schooling Big-Eye Jacks, Oriental, Harlequin and Diagonal-banded Sweetlips, you name it, were seen. On top of that, with the bright lights of the sun illuminating the reef around the jetty, it was an outstanding finish to our guests, who could swim among drummers, batfish, sweetlips, snappers, fusiliers and also a Napoleon Wrasse in shallow waters!
Following the third dive, we had the opportunity to go on a small walk around the village. An opportunity for our guests to photograph the beautiful landscape and interact briefly with the locals together with the crew, who accompanied them. Back on board, the bell rang for the night dive as the sky turned from blue into a light red, and it was a repeat of Sawandarek Jetty. This time, the divemasters were focused on the macro life available and Decorator Crabs, Marbled Shrimp, nudibranchs and also a few Painted Spiny Lobsters were some of the highlights.
When all our divers were on board, the dinner was served. After dessert most guests stayed around having a conversation about Manta Rays, with information about the species and its behavior being shared. This was our last activity together and afterwards most stayed around chatting for a conversation.
Monday November 27th
We woke up with the first rays of sun on the horizon and started gearing up for the dive in Cape Mansuar, close by the village of Yanbuba, where we had a night dives a few days back. With a gentle current and visibility around 15 meters/50 feet, our divers had the possibility to move around this slopping reef while gazing at plenty of fish swimming around. The likes of drummers, batfish, Pick-handle Barracudas, Red and Blubberlip Snappers, Wobbegong Shark, Blacktip Reef Shark were seen congregating. Towards the end of the dive, the divemasters spotted a few critters, including nudibranchs, flatworms and also a Leaf Scorpionfish.
Once the dive was over, we moved east towards the neighbor island of Kri, where we repeated a dive along its cape. The currents, again, were gentle and there was plenty of opportunity to swim around this vibrant coral reef while admiring both hard and soft coral formations. A few Bumphead Parrotfish, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Big-Eye Jacks, Giant Trevally and schooling fusiliers, trigger and surgeonfish were also seen. On top of that, our divers had the opportunity to see a living school of sweetlips that lives on the deeper part of this reef.
During the afternoon, the vessel made its way slightly north, where we anchored close to Chicken Reef, which name derives from the shape of the seamount itself. The currents on this dive were slightly stronger so a precise descent to the entry point was necessary. When there, schooling fusiliers, Orange-spotted and Blue-fin Trevally, Whitetip Reef Shark and Spanish Mackerels were seen. As the divers continued the drift along the reef, some critters and camouflage masters were looked after, including Broadclub Cuttlefish, Reef Stonefish, Tasseled Scorpionfish, nudibranchs and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse.
With all our divers returned on board, it was time for a snack as we moved to our next dive site, the reef around islet of Mioskon. The night dive didn t happen before a beautiful sunset that colored the skies with a fine orange among picturesque cloudy formations. This night dive was a special one, since it was the lone opportunity for our divers to see the endemic Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark, also known as the walking shark. Some of our groups, inclusive, saw up to five of them during the dive, which was a great plus!
After the last divers came back and had their showers, it was time for dinner. What followed the dessert was an explanation about the logistics of our last full day together happening tomorrow. After that most guests retired to their rooms. The boat sleeps around Mioskon tonight.
Tuesday November 28th
Already in the surroundings of our diving destination for the day, our guests woke up and started gearing up for our last two dives of the week. Both dives were done in Dampier s possibly most famous dive site: Blue Magic, a seamount located in the heart of the straits where currents brings nutrients and fish aplenty and where Oceanic Manta Rays visit for cleaning purposes. On both occasions, we had a flooding current from northwest mild enough for our divers to have some freedom moving around the reef top while enjoying the congregations of fish, including surgeon, parrotfish, fusiliers, Oceanic Triggerfish, Bonito Tuna and the occasional Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel and Grey Reef Shark patrolling the reef. On top of that, our divers had the opportunity, even though we are not in peak season yet, to see a few Oceanic Manta Rays hovering above the reef. Two fantastic dives to end this trip!
As the last group returned from the second dive, the crew started taking care of rinsing their equipment and hanging it. During this we had lunch and afterwards a video with footage of the week, including marine life and moments on the boat, was shown. The divemaster Jemy then opened our boutique and all could purchase souvenirs to bring back home.
During the afternoon we had our farewell party, a moment for the crew to play some music to the guests and thank all for their visit. It was also an opportunity to distribution of awards and recognition of milestones.
Vikas and Abdulla completed their SSI Enriched Air Nitrox (EANx) courses during the cruise, cheers! Louie, Rylan and Mitch were our Aggressor Iron Divers, completing all dives available! All our guests, though, deserved an applause for their behavior underwater!
Sunset came as we sailed towards Sorong and after it we had dinner. The meal was followed by an explanation on check-out procedures and for last we watched a slideshow with some of the pictures taken by our divers during the week. It was the last activity and a few stayed around chatting afterwards.
Wednesday November 29th
At the scheduled time the crew was waiting for our guests to help them with luggage and bid farewells. It was a pleasure to have you all on board and we hope to see you again on the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Have a safe journey back home!