Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *11 December 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdi
Cruise Director: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Chef Assistant: Intan
Dive master: Denny
Dive master: Hery
Dive master: Charles
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Tu: Sagof, Baby Rock, Farondi Pinnacle, Wagmab Beach
We: Andiamo, Andiamo, Candy Store, Candy Store
Th: Yillet Kecil, Gus Ridge, Boo West, Whale Rock
Fr: Tank Rock, Nudi Rock, Magic Mountain, Romeo
Sa: Gorgonian Passage, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock
Su: Grouper Net, Grouper Net, Love Potion No. 9
Mo: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo Night
Tu: Manta Sandy, Sawandarek Jetty, Cape Kri, Mioskon
We: Blue Magic, Blue Magic
GUESTS: YiHisin, Ellen, Vera, Jor, Jared, John, Bruno, Sarah, Winn, Steve, Sander
Monday December 11th
At around noon, our guests were picked-up and transferred to the vessel, where the crew was waiting to greet them. With a welcome drink in their hands, all were introduced to their staterooms and briefed on its facilities. Jemly, the chef, and Intan, his assistant, had already prepared our first meal, an Indonesian lunch. After the meal, a briefing about the boat and its facilities was given.
The afternoon was time to rest and for the guests to get to know each other after having prepared their dive equipment with the help of Hery, Denny and Charles, the divemasters. As we started sailing towards Misool, South Raja Ampat, the sun set in the sky and what followed the dusk was an earlier dinner.
Once our guests finished dessert, a briefing regarding the dive logistics from our vessel and itinerary was shared so the divers were prepared for what expect them tomorrow. This was the last activity of the night and most guests stayed around for a bit chatting or working on their photography equipment.
Tuesday December 12th
The sun rose bright in the sky since early in the morning as our vessel approached the area of Sagof, our first diving destination of this trip. The site chosen for the check dive, an opportunity for our divers to get acquainted with being in the water again, was the Two Trees Island, a large reef where both the northern and southern sides are made up of a steep wall that ascend into shallow water coral gardens and go along two overhangs on the western and eastern tips. Even being our first dive, our groups already had the opportunity to see some of the characteristic marine life of Raja Ampat, including Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Orangutan Crab, Bubble Coral Shrimp and Crocodile Flathead.
Back on board, the bell rang for our full breakfast, which Noci and Maria, the stewardesses, served. After the meal, most guests opted to rest in the upper deck enjoying the sunny morning and the ocean breeze before gearing up for the second dive of the day, in Baby Rock. The bright ambient light helped illuminating a dense, colorful soft coral garden on the shallow waters of this reef, where orange and purple colors are especially abundant and got the attention of a few of our divers. The visibility was in between 10-15 meters/33-50 feet and the currents were mild, conditions weve seen throughout the whole day, and some of the marine life spotted by the divemasters on this dive included Reef Stonefish, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and a few nudibranchs, including specimen of the Nembrotha genus.
What followed the returned of the last group from the water was the buffet-served lunch. The interval between this meal and the following dive is longer, and, as happened earlier in the day, our guests could again be seen resting or having a nap in the sun deck. Finally, the bell rang for our third dive, the first of this trip on seamount: Farondi Pinnacle. Another few highlights could be mentioned from this dive, including the first Wobbegong Shark, schooling Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snapper, Pick-handle and Yellowtail Barracudas and the occasional Bumphead Parrotfish swimming on the top of the reef. All this lead to a lot of smily faces retuning from the water.
As the last group arrived back on board, we lifted the anchor and started heading west, towards the beautiful region of Wagmab. A fantastic dusk, when the sun slowly disappeared on the horizon line, preceded our first night dive, in Wagmab Beach. Some of the highlights pointed out by the divemasters included nudibranchs, like the genus Platydoris, flatworms and also the seldom seen nocturnal Satomi Pygmy Seahorse. What a finding!
With all of our divers back on board and having showered, we gathered in the salon for the menu-served dinner, another one of our Indonesian meals. Before we started, though, we all congratulated YiHisin for completing her 600th dive! As our guests finished the dessert, a presentation about West Papua and the archipelago of Raja Ampat was shared, mentioning some of its history, geography and unique characteristics regarding underwater biodiversitye. It was the last activity of the night and most guests stayed around chatting for a bit while others decided to work on their cameras for the following day. The boat sleeps in Wagmab tonight before heading east, towards Daram.
Wednesday December 13th
Before dawn we started sailing east and with the first rays of sun in the sky we arrived in Andiamo, a considerably big reef where we decided to spend our morning diving. The first dive, done with a northern mild current and visibility around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet, was spent around the sites two pinnacles, which were teeming with life. Schooling fusiliers, rabbitfish, Pick-handle Barracudas, Blue-lined Snappers formed some of the action together with Spanish Mackerel, Giant and Orange-spotted Trevallys and even three Mobula Rays who were seen hunting. Along the reef itself, a mixture of a few hard coral heads and mostly soft coral formations, including a few rocks where black coral and Glassy Sweepers thrive, lionfish and other critters were seen, including a few macro subjects like the Denise Pygmy Seahorse.
The following dive happened along Andiamos eastern ridge and the concentration of fish during the it was otherwordly. Longface Emperors, Orange-spotted and Blue-fin Trevallys, Spanish Mackerel, Dogtooth and Bonito Tuna, Grey Reef Shark, Brown-Marbled Grouper and more provided plenty of action that resulted from the presence of a bait ball of Silverside Fish formed around the ridge and on the southern end of the reef. A fantastic experience for our divers to able to swim among such an active scenario! It was not over yet, though, as towards the end of the dive the coral formations themselves also provided a glimpse of the richnesses of Raja Ampat, as our groups swam among almost intact both hard and soft coral species while watching the marine life living among it and being surrounded by a school of batfish. The divemasters, as usual, spotted a few macro subjects before the dive was over, including Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Orangutan Crab and also a brigthly red-colored anemone, seldom seen in the archipelago. A world-class dive, basically!
After the ciesta, the bell rang once more for the third dive of the day, done in Candy Store, a long reef where its northern face is composed of a wall covered in colorful, huge seafans and the southern hosts plenty of rock formations where other soft coral thrive. We started the dive on the western pinnacle and drifted along the wall swimming among schooling fusiliers, rabbit, surgeon and batfish and other pelagic life hunting among them. A few stops where made by the divemasters in order to show some macro subjects, including another Denise Pygmy Seahorse and towards the end of the dive, with the light brightening the reef, a gentle safety stop hovering above a colorful soft coral garden.
Once the night arrived, the preparations for the night dive started and it was a repeat of the previous site, when our divers spent their time along a rocky ridge in search of critters, which tend to be plentiful on the area. Some of the highlights included: Boxer Crab, nudibranchs and the first endemic Epaulette Shark of the trip!
When all our guests were back on board after such a wonderful day of diving and pleasant sunny weather in Daram, we started heading south towards the island of Yillet, where the boat will sleep tonight. Following dinner another presentation, this time about the Epaulette Shark, also known as the walking shark, was shared with our guests, mentioning especially the specie that is endemic from the archipelago of Raja Ampat. Afterwards, most guests stayed around for a quick chat before heading to bed.
Thursday December 14th
Another morning, another sunny sky as we continue our journey through the reef of Misool, South Raja Ampat. The first dive of this day happened in Yillet Kecil, a fabulous soft coral garden where plenty of macro subjects can be seen. With visibility of about 15 meters/50 feet and a mild current, our divers could first have a glimpse on the action provided by surgeon, banner, triggerfish and fusiliers and a few small schools of Pick-handle, Chevron Barracuda and Big-Eye Jacks before turning towards the reef. Some of the findings pointed out by the divemasters included nudibranchs, including the Jorunna genus, flatworms, Leaf Scorpionfish and the red color variation of the Denise Pygmy Seahorse. On top of that, a surprise: swimming among the coral reef in shallow water, one of our groups saw a Marbled Ray!
Once Ody, the dinghy driver, returned with the last group, captain Ervanto and his chief office Ferdy started moving the vessel towards south, close to the island of Warakaraket. There we dove the Gus Ridge, a deep water ridge running east to west and known as a Manta Ray cleaning station. With a northern current, our groups were mostly protected by the island and could slowly swim among schooling Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers, Redtooth Triggerfish, bannerfish and more, while having the opportunity to see a gorup of Blue-fin Trevallys in full display chasing the Bluestreak Fusiliers. What stood out, though, was the first opportunity for our guests to contemplate a male Reef Manta Ray hovering on top of a cleaning station not seemed to be bothered by the divers who stood at distance.
Among celebrations of manta as our divers returned, the vessel was one more time on the move, this time towards Boo West, our dive site for the afternoon. With a medium current coming from the north, our groups drifted along a wall covered in immense sea fans and circled a seamount where the coral garden itself is absolutely impressive, not to mention the congregation of fish on its top. All of this while a Grey Reef Shark patrolled the area in deeper waters. Crossing from the main reef to the seamount, a group had the chance to see another Reef Manta Ray, which was, according to our guests, quite playful around them! This was not all, though, as towards the end of the dive, with the soft coral fully illuminated by the bright sun, a few macro subjects were also seen, like Orangutan Crab and a sea fan with no less than six Denise Pygmy Seahorses!
Back on board, we moved towards our last stop for the day, in the heart of Fiabacet, where we started gearing up the night dive, done in the shallow coral garden of Whale Rock. Some of the highlights seen included: Decorator Crab, Pygmy Squid, nudibranchs and an Electric Clam!
When the last group returned with Carly, another of our dinghy drivers, and had shower, the bell rang for dinner. Before the meal was time for us to congratulate another milestone, since Vera completed her 100th dive today! After dessert, a presentation about sharks was given, mentioning some of their general characteristics, reproduction facts and also threats to their existence due to over-fishing. This was the last activity for the evening and a few guests stayed up for a bit before rest.
Friday December 15th
The luck with the weather continued as another sunny morning arrived with sunrise, as we woke up in the area of Fiabacet. The bell rang for the first dive, in Tank Rock, a long ridge where the coral growth on its shallower parts is one of the highlights from the region. With a mild northern current and visibility around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet, our divers drifted along the steep slope that descends on both sides of the ridge while watching fusiliers, surgeonfish and other reef fish like damsel and anthias feed on the nutrients hanging in the water column. Along the reef itself, a few macro subjects were pointed out by the divemasters, like nudibranchs, including a Flabellina specimen, flatworms, Tasseled Scorpionfish and Denise Pygmy Seahorse.
Our second dive happened in one of Misools most celebrated soft coral reefs: Nudi Rock. The current during this dive was almost non-existent and it offered an opportunity for our groups to swim freely along the site while watching Grey Reef Sharks, Brown-marbled Groupers and other pelagic, like Spanish Mackerel, patrol the reef in search of a meal. As for the critters and macro life seen, Orangutan Crab, Crinoid Shrimp, Soft Coral Pipefish and also a white Giant Frogfish were seen. To finish, a spectacular swim among the southern shallow plateau where plenty and diverse soft coral species were in full display. A beautiful dive!
Once the last group returned, we lifted the anchor and started moving slightly south, towads the island of Warakaraket, to visit Magic Mountain (a.k.a. Shadow Reef), a seamount teeming with marine life that offers a spectacle every time you dive it. Schooling batfish, fusiliers, surgeonfish, Pick-handle Barracuda, Big-Eye Jacks, Bonito Tuna and a few Grey and Whitetip Reef Sharks were seen on the first half of the dive, spent in the deep water ridge that extends east from the top of the mount. Towards the end, in shallow water, Blue-lined and Spanish Snappers, anthias, damselfish and a few inquisitive Napoleon Wrasse finished what turned out to be a fantastic dive done with a northern current and visibility around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet.
The day of diving was not over yet, though, as we headed towards Yillet Besar for the night dive, done in Romeo, an islet that hosts a hard coral garden growing among rocky formations. It was, an usual, an excellent opportunity to spot the endemic Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark, also known as walking shark. But it was not all, a juvenile octopuses, Crocodile Flathead, nudibranchs, flatworms and more were also pointed out!
With the last diver on board, the bell rang for dinner. Once the meal was finished, the divemaster Hery introduced a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses, mentioning the species commonly seen in Indonesian waters and also some traits of this lovely creatures reproduction. This was all for the evening and, after another fantastic day of diving in the south of the archipelago, most guests decided to rest. The boat sleeps in Yillet tonight before heading west, towards the region Wayilbatan, the destination of tomorrow.
Saturday December 16th
We started sailing before dawn and on time arrived around the island of Wayilbatan, our diving destination for the day. The first dive site chosen was Gorgonian Passage, a channel that hosts one of the regions most impressive landscapes, where a wall filled with immense gorgonians and other species of soft coral made this site a special one. Along the sea fans, all sorts of Pygmy Seahorses were seen, Denise, Bargibanti and a couple of color variations. As the groups drifted along a mild current and enjoying the visibility of around 20 meters/66 feet, the divemasters made a few stops to point other critters, including Brown-banded Pipefish, Gorgonian and Bubble Coral Shrimp, flatworms and nudibranchs, including one from the genus Nembrotha.
Following the dive we moved the vessel slightly east where we would stop for the day. The second dive happened in Barracuda Rock, a small islet surrounded by a reef and two extending deep water ridges where schooling fish can be seen. Some of our divers had the opportunity to see a considerable school of Pick-handle and Chevron Barracudas hovering in mid-water, while all got a glimpse at schooling fusiliers, snappers and also a small bait ball of Silverside Fish. As for the critters seen here, nudibranchs, including a specimen from the genus Tambja, Papuan Scorpionfish, Mantis Shrimp and a few colorful blennies were photographed.
With the sun, one more day, bright in the sky, some of our guests used the resting time after lunch for kayaking in this beautiful scenery of limestone islets with lush green vegetation, making a stop along a beautiful lagoon. In time the bell rang for the following dive, in Wedding Cake, site that receives its name due to the layer cake formation that it presents on its northern side. Besides the outstanding soft coral garden in shallow waters (which was completely illuminated by the sun this afternoon) and the light effects on the southwestern swim-through, there were plenty of macro subjects and critters to be seen on this site as well: Crocodile Flathead, Reef Octopus, Broadclub Cuttlefish, nudibranchs, like the Phyllidia and Glossodoris, flatworms, Crinoid Squat Lobsters and more. As if it wasnt enough, most of our divers also had the opportunity to see jacks and Mobula Rays hunting on a bait ball!
As the dinghy drivers brought our groups back safely, some guests decided to venture themselves on the kayak again while others stayed up in the sun deck as the set started to set. With the night came the time for our night dive, done in Barracuda Rock. As usual, quite a few critters were pointed out by the divemasters, including another two Walking Sharks!
With the end of this pleasant, sunny day of diving in the region of Wayil, came the time for dinner. Once the meal was over, most guests opted to rest in order to prepare for our last day of diving in Misool, tomorrow. The boat sleeps in Wayilbatan.
Sunday December 17th
Before the start of a new day, we arrived around the seamount named Grouper Net to start the last day of diving in the region of Misool. After one outstanding dive and plenty of smiles back on board, we opted to do the following dive on the same site as well. This happens due to the concentration of Silverside Fish around the mounts pinnacle during this time of the year being extremely high. These small fish attract predators and, with visibility of about 20 meters/66 feet and gentle currents, our divers had the opportunity to witness a feeding frenzy of Mobula Rays, Bonito Tunas, Giant Trevallys and a school of more than a thousand Amber Jacks. These two dives for sure wont be forgotten by our guests soon and will stand out as one of the most memorable moments of this trip!
Once the last group returned from the second dive, we started heading north, towards Balbulol, where we visited one of Raja Ampats most pristine soft coral gardens: Love Potion No. 9. The currents on the side of the islet we dove were non-existent and with similar visibility as on the previous dive, it was a relaxing, beautiful dive among such a rich, colorful and diverse reef where nudibranchs, octopuses, scorpionfish, flatworms, turtles and more thrive. A great way to finish our tour through the South of the archipelago.
Immediately after the dive we started our crossing towards Central Raja Ampat, most precisely in the direction of Fam and Peneimu, our destination for tomorrow. Despite the rain (first one we had in a week!) mosts guests were in the upper deck chatting and having a good time. After sunset, we gathered in the salon for an earlier dinner that was following with a performance by the crew, who played some music to the guests. Finally, after it a few guests still stayed around listening to music and talking while others decided to rest.
Monday December 18th
Along with the sunrise, which happened among a cloudy stay that only cleared during the afternoon, we arrive at the region of Fam & Peneimu, making our first stop in the outstanding hard coral reef of Melissas Garden. Welcoming us in the Central Raja Ampat was a visibility of around 25 meters/82 feet and, even though there was a current present due to the moon phase, the divemasters managed a plan that suited comfortably all our groups. Drifting along schooling fusiliers, surgeon, triggerfish and others while watching pelagic like Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Blue-find and Giant Trevally chasing them was the first part of the dive. The second was a gentle cruise along Melissas incredible hard coral garden, which in some parts in shallow water extends beyond sight.
Following the dive we moved slightly west, towards the norhtern side of Keruo island, where we dove its channel. The currents were again a factor and, with the nutrients they bring, plenty of action could be seen on this sites pinnacle: Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Shark, Big-Eye Jacks, schooling Oriental and Ribbon Sweetlips, and a few drummers put on a show. After crossing the channel, our groups finished the dive along a wall covered in hard coral, sponges and sea fans where a few of our divers could see a Day Octopus on full display.
After lunch, some of our guests decided to kayak around this beautiful landscape before we moved the vessel a bit north, close to the island of Peneimu. The following dive happened on the ridge named Galaxy and it was a gentle drift where the divemasters spent most of their time looking for critters and macro subjects: nudibranchs, like the genus Flabellina, flatworms, Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Ringed Pipefish and a few schooling Blue-lined Snappers and Blacktip Reef Sharks.
Once the last group returned from the water and had their fresh coconut as a snack, our guests had the opportunity to go on a supervise walk to one of Raja Ampats signature viewpoints: the karst limestone formations of Peneimu. Afterwards Carly and Ody drove all on a little tour around the lagoons, a pleasant activity away from the vessel! Back on board we started heading towards the southern part of Keruo, where we did the night dive. Some of the highlights of this one included: juvenile cuttlefish, Crocodile Flathead, Marbled Shrimp and Decorator Crab.
With all our guests back on board, the bell ranged for dinner, another Indonesian-style meal! What followed dessert was a presentation on sharks, mentioning its general characteristics as well as some traits like reproduction and migration and finally their importance on our ecosystems. When it was over, most guests retired to bed while a couple stayed around before resting.
Tuesday December 19th
Before sunrise we started sailing east towards the island of Arborek, where we would visit one of Dampiers most famous Reef Manta Ray cleaning stations: Manta Sandy. With a southern current bringing nutrients in the water and visibility luckily of about 15 meters/50, despite the sandy bottom, our groups had not only one, not only two, not three, but six Reef Mantas swimming around!!! A fantastic experience! Besides that, the divemasters also pointed a couple of critters in the rabble area, like Hairy Pipefish and Hairy Shrimp.
Once the dive was over we started heading south, towards the island of Mansuar. We finally arrived on front of the Sawandarek village and dove in the beautiful reef fronting its jetty. That was such a good dive!, we listened from some of our divers as they returned. This was due to the sights of schooling Bumphead Parrotfish, Oriental and Ribbon Sweetlips, Yellowtail Barraudas and batfish, a couple of Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks going along with both Hawksbill and Green Turtle. As for the macro lovers, Emperor Shrimp, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and nudibranchs were also pointed out. All this with visibility of about 20-25 meters/66-82 feet.
East of Mansuar is the neighbor island of Kri, where we anchored for the third dive of the day, in Raja Ampats world-famous Cape Kri. As it usually is, there was plenty of action to be observed a bit further out of the reef, with Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Orange-spotted Trevally and even a few Grey Reef Sharks patrolling the waters in search of a meal. Drifting along the colorful vibrant coral garden, the divemasters also offered a hand to our macro lovers, spotting critters like Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse, Flabellina nudibranch and Ringed Pipefish.
When the last group returned, the boat made its last move of the day towards the small islet of Mioskon, further north. Along its vast plateau covered in rocks and hard coral is where we did the night dive, and it was the last opportunity for our brave divers to see the Walking Shark! It was not all, though, as Sponge and Decorator Crab, Marbled Shrimp and a few scorpionfish were also seen.
With all our guests back on board, it was time for dinner. Once the dessert was finished, the schedule for our two next days, including check-out procedures, was detailed to our guests. That was all for the evening and most guests opted to rest afterwards.
Wednesday December 20th
We woke up around Mioskon before moving the boat slightly southeast, close to the seamount named Blue Magic, where we did the first dive of the day. With a western flooding current, our divers back-rolled straight into the split point where they could enjoy the action provided by schooling fusiliers, rabbitfish, squirrelfish, jacks and also Grey Reef Shark. Afterwards we moved further along the mount and had the wonderful possibility to spend time with three Oceanic Manta Rays that were hovering around the site and its cleaning stations.
Trying to finish our trip with another fantastic dive surrounded by Manta Rays, we visited Blue Magic one more time and it was another great dive. This time the visibility was around 20 meters/66 feet and the currents were coming from the east. As it usually happens on this site, a lot of action was seen and followed by the gentle movements of Manta Rays around. Great way to finish the trip!!!
When our divers returned, the crew took care of rinsing everyones gear, as usual. In the meantime, lunch was served and the meal was followed by the showing of the video prepared during the trip with some of the underwater marine life highlights and images of our guests out of it as well. Finally, the divemasters Hery opened the boutique for the ones who wanted to bring a souvenir back home.
The rest of the afternoon was destined for rest and also our farewell party. It was another opportunity for the crew to play some music to everyone and also thanks our guests for their visit. Awards and milestones were also distributed and recognized.
As for the ones who reaches a significant milestone during the, our congratulations to YiHsin (600) and Vera (100)!
The party wouldnt be complete without giving the medals to our Aggressor Iron Divers: YiHsin, Jared and Bruno. Congratulations all!
Sunset came and went and with it rang the bell for our last dinner together, a signature dish by the chef, Jemly. After the meal, the guests were briefed one more time on the check-out procedures and we had time to watch the slide show with pictures that our guests took during this beautiful 10 days. Afterwards most guests stayed around chatting before heading for their rooms in order to rest for the long journey ahead.
Thursday December 21st
On the scheduled time our crew was waiting for the guests on the dive deck in order to bid their farewells. Besides that, it was another opportunity to thank all for visiting us and wish them a safe journey home hoping to see you soon aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor!