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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captain s log *10 January 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdi
Cruise Director: Urik
Assistant CD: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
3rd Engineer: Rahmat
Chef Assistant: Komangi
Dive master: Muji
Dive master: Charles
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Deck Hand: Jasman
Th: Two Trees Island, Farondi Seamount, Baby Rock, Wagmab Beach
Fr: Black Rock, Andiamo, Candy Store, Warna Berwarna
Sa: Four Kings, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock
Su: Boo Windows, Gus Ridge, Magic Mountain, Romeo
Mo: Nudi Rock, Tank Rock, Boo West, Whale Rock
Tu: Grouper Net, Plateau, Love Potion No. 9
We: Melissa s Garden, My Reef, Galaxy, Keruo Night
Th: Mayhem I, Manta Ridge, Sawandarek Jetty, Yanbubba Jetty
Fr: Blue Magic, Sardine Reef
GUESTS: Martin, Gina, Sab, Simo, Ian, Robyn, Jeff, Markus, Julie
Wednesday January 10th
When our guests were transferred from the arrival dock into the boat, the crew was already waiting to greet them all. With a welcome juice and fresh towel in hand, it was time to proceed with the staterooms introduction, helping each one to get acquainted to the cabin facilities. Not long after the last group arrived, the bell rang for our first meal together, an Indonesian buffet lunch served by Jemly, the chef, and Komangi, his assistant.
What followed the meal was an introductory briefing done by Urik, the cruise director, about our vessel and its main areas as well as details related to the daily schedule. Afterwards our guests had time to finish setting up their dive equipment with the help of Muji and Charles, the dive masters.
As the sunset came among a cloudy sky and light rain, we lifted the anchor and started heading towards Misool, the southern region of the Raja Ampat archipelago. Earlier than usual the bell rang once more for a menu-served dinner, which continued into another briefing by Urik, this time related to our general itinerary and diving logistics from the vessel. It was also an opportunity for a formal introduction from the whole crew!
Respecting the fact that most of our guests had a long journey until West Papua, Indonesia, we called it a night relatively early. Most used the opportunity to have an extended rest period while others stayed around finishing up the gear configuration for the check dive, tomorrow morning.
Thursday January 11th
The day had already started as, among a gray, misty sky, we arrived in the region of Sagof, our first destination in the archipelago. After a buffet-served light breakfast, our divers started gearing up for the check dive, an opportunity to test photographic equipment, adjust dive gear and weights and get used to being back in the water. The dive site chosen was Two Trees Island, a large reef that offers plenty of sheltered space for us to take it easy in the first dive. It was, nevertheless, an opportunity to already see some of Raja Ampat s excentric marine life, like Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, from the species Flabellina and Phillydia, Crocodile Flathead, Reef Octopus, among others.
When the last grouped returned on board and were greeted by the engineers, Yuli and Daryanto, greeted them with a warm towel. The bell then rang for the full breakfast, ordered earlier, which includes an Indonesian option everyday! After some rest, we started gearing up for the second dive, done in Farondi Seamount. Among the top of the seamount our divers could swim around due to the mild currents presents and watch congregations of Yellowtail Barracuda, Bumphead Parrotfish, different species of fusiliers and also snappers, like the Blue-lined and Spanish Flag. The visibility, as for the whole day, was in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet.
After the second morning dive, the fine rain had already stopped and the clouds started to dissipate. Indah, one of the stewardesses, rang the bell for lunch and what followed was a longer ciesta that most of our guests had in the sun deck. In the afternoon happened the third dive of the day, and it was an spectacle. The dive site chosen was Baby Rock and, with a northern current, a considerable amount of fish could be seen on that side of the reef, providing plenty of action as Giant, Orange-spotted Trevallys, Oriental Bonito and, on top of that, Mobula Rays could be seen chasing a bait ball of Silverside Fish. It was not all, since the water movements resulted in the soft coral species to have their polyps open and the colors in full display, which caught our divers attention as some rays of sun appeared in the sky!
As Ody, one of the dinghy driver, returned with the last divers, Maria, the other stewardess, was waiting for all with a snack and a beverage. By this time we were on the move towards the west, close to the island of Wagmab, where we d enjoy the sunset and do the night dive, in Wagmab Beach. As it is usually the case in Raja Ampat, we spent our night dive looking for macro subjects and critters, and it didn t disappoint, as a few species of crustaceans, like the Decorator Crab, were seen, as well as nudibranchs, flatworms and also a flounder. Towards the end of the dive, a few Reef Squids posed for photographs attracted by our groups lights.
With the last of our guests back from the night dive and having taken a shower, the bell rang one more time for the menu-served dinner, another Indonesian specialty prepared by the kitchen team. After the meal, a presentation about the history, geography, culture and biodiversity of Raja Ampat was given to the guests, who, once the presentation was over, opted to go their staterooms for rest. The boat sleeps in Wagmab tonight and tomorrow we head east, towards the region of Daram.
Friday January 12th
With another cloudy sky greeting us in the morning, our vessel arrived in the Black Rock, a remote dive site standing in between Wagmab, our last stop yesterday, and Daram, our destination for today. Standing as a long ridge running north to south and filled with beautiful hard coral formations, it is home to considerable congregations of Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers, as well as a school of Chevron Barracuda. On top of that, our divers had the opportunity to swim along a gentle current among schooling Yellowtail Fusiliers, Pick-handle Barracudas, batfish, having also a glimpse at two young Giant Groupers, as they were cleaned in deep water. A pleasant dive to start the day!
Further southeast from Black Rock we arrived in the surroundings of Andiamo, one of Raja Ampat s most striking sites that could be explored in more than one dive due to its size. With the conditions present this morning (very mild currents and visibility at about 20 meters/66 feet), our groups visited both Andiamo s pinnacles, where Pick-handle Barracudas, fusiliers, batfish and rabbitfish were plentiful, and also its southeastern ridge, where a stunning concentration of fish impressed all. It was not all, though, since the dive finished in a colorful, dense soft and hard coral garden, where some of the formations are so immense that left our guests wondering how long they ve been part of this reef. As an important extra mention: the sun came out brightly just before we jumped in the water!
The third dive of this wonderful day in Daram happened in Candy Store and its beautiful gorgonian garden. Similar to the previous two dives, the currents were gentle and the visibility around 20 meters/66 feet, which allowed our groups on another easy swim among among schooling reef fish like damsel, anthias, parrot, butterfly and angelfish while searching for critters, like the Denise Pygmy Seahorse red color variation. Nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, were also seen, coupled with a Reef Octopus and plenty of scorpionfish.
After sunset our divers started gearing up for the night dive, done in the small, yet colorful reef of Warna Berwarna. It was another critter spotting mission and it didn t disappoint: Marbled Shrimp, Fiambriated Moray Eel, juvenile Reef Octopus, Pygmy Squid and also a Denise Pygmy Seahorse were some of the highlights seen.
Carly, another dinghy driver, returned with the last group and after those had their showers, the bell ringed for our Italian dinner! After the meal, Urik give a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses, mentioning all the species so far described in the world, as well as the ones more commonly seen in Indonesia. Once it was over, most guests retired to their staterooms for rest while the vessel was already on its way to the region of Wayilbatan, where we ll dive tomorrow.
Saturday January 13th
Having arrived around the underwater seamount named Four Kings, our divers started gearing up for the first dive at our usual morning time. The topography of this site itself is an spectacle, being formed by four pinnacles connected by ridges where hard coral formations are plentiful and serve as homes for glassy sweepers and critters found among them, including Brown-banded Pipefish, Leaf Scorpionfish and different species of crustaceans. With a gentle current and visibility in between 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, our groups had the opportunity to swim freely along the dive site while also contemplating plenty of fish action, as Spanish Mackerel, Wahoo, Giant, Orange-spotted, Bluefin and Blue Trevallies chased fusiliers, rabbit and surgeonfish. On the deeper pinnacle, as if it wasn t enough, a compact school of juvenile Chevron Barracuda provided a show to our photographers, coming into a tornado-shape perfect for pictures.
Next on the schedule and closer to the main island of Wayilbatan, we dove in Barracuda Rock. With similar, relaxing conditions, it was another fantastic dive, as our groups swam among a soup of fusiliers, Pick-handle Barracudas, batfish, surgeonfish and others. It was not all, since in one of this sites deep ridges, populated by plenty of whip corals, a Silverside Fish baitball was present and with it plenty of action as jacks consistently attacked it while a considerable school of Chevron Barracudas watched from the distance. On the way to the ridge, a surprise: an Eagle Ray gliding gracefully along the reef!
The third dive of the day, which happened with another sunny afternoon, which has been the case lately, was in Wedding Cake, a site that receives this name due to its topography reminding a layer cake. Since the currents were relatively stronger at this time of the day, our dive masters spend most of their dives in a shallow, protected soft coral garden that, illuminated by the sun, provided a beautiful setting itself. Among the coral formations, plenty of macro subjects could be seen, like nudibranchs, including the Nembrotha genus, Crocodile Flathead, Electric Clam, flatworms and also a sleepy Hawksbill Turtle that didn t shy away to posing for pictures once our divers approached.
Once the last group returned, some of our guests decided to use the kayaks to explore the beautiful scenery of Wayilbatan, including its secret lagoon. Sunset came along the calm waters of the archipelago and afterwards we started preparing for the night dive, a repeat of Barracuda Rock where our groups spent their time along the shallow water plateau searching for critters and macro subjects. Some of the highlights included Sponge Crab, Crocodile Flathead and the endemic Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark, also known as the walking shark.
With everyone back on board and having had their showers, we gathered in the salon for dinner. Once the meal was finished, a presentation about Sea Turtles was given, mentioning the species existing in the world, some of their general characteristics and behavior traces and also threats to their existence due to human activities. Most guests opted to rest after it was over. The boat sleeps in Wayilbatan tonight.
Sunday January 14th
The insisting rain presented throughout the whole day didn t keep our divers from the water in what turned out to be another excellent diving day in the south Raja Ampat. Our first dive happened in the famous Boo Windows, which received its name due to the picturesque landscape formed by two holes in the islet. Among the scenario, with a manageable current blowing from the north, our groups drifted along the sloping reef watching Napoleon Wrasses, Pick-handle Barracudas, Black tip and Grey Reef Shark as well as another congregation of Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snapper, before stopping at a dense soft coral garden located in a sheltered area of the reef. Along the coral formations, macro subjects like Ringed Pipefish, nudibranchs, like the Thecacera, Fire Dartfish, and others were pointed out by the dive masters.
Back from the dive, we moved the vessel towards the eastern tip of the Warakaraket island. There we dove in a local dive site named Gus Ridge, a deep water ridge that runs west to east known as a cleaning station for Manta Rays. Even though we didn t see the graceful ocean giants, our divers had the opportunity to watch the fish action while hooked on the reef developing, with Giant, Orange-spotted and Blue-fin Trevallies hunting fusiliers, like the Yellowtail and Bluestrike, rabbitfish, surgeon and unicorfish and also a considerable concentration of colorful banners. Towards the end of the dive, as we started drifting to the safety stop, a dense school of Big-Eye Jacks and Chevron Barracudas were there to be seen.
Slightly east of Gus Ridge we visited, on the afternoon, one of Raja Ampat s most celebrated dive site, Magic Mountain (a.k.a. Shadow Reef), another Manta Ray cleaning station. Despite encountering two specimen of Reef Manta Rays, a male and female, which was already special itself, the quantity and diversity of fish life seen on this reef is second to none in the whole archipelago. Napoleon Wrasse, White tip Reef Shark, Brown-marbled Grouper, Red Snapper, Giant Trevallies, Big-Eye Jacks, Pick-handle Barracuda, Grey Reef Shark, Green Turtle, Red Lionfish, you name it and Magic Mountain offers you a possibility of seeing it. All this with visibility of about 20 meters/66 feet and just enough current to get the action going. A fantastic dive!
As Jasman, the deck hand, welcomed the last group from the water, our vessel was on the move again, towards the island of Yillet, where we would do the night dive. With the rain finally over, even though the clouds still present, our divers were briefed about the dive site named Romeo, a known place to spot the Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark. At least two of them were indeed seen, but it was not all, as Day Octopus, Broadclub Cuttlefish, Crocodile Flathead, nudibranchs, like the Glossodoris genus, and more led our divers to return from the water with smiling faces.
After everyone had showered, we gathered in the salon for dinner, which was followed by a special presentation. The crew, led by Ervanto, the captain, performed a couple of Indonesian songs to our guests, who enjoyed the happy mood to finish the day. Afterwards most opted to go to bed straight away, while the boat sleeps in Yillet tonight.
Monday January 15th
With the rays of sun that were missing yesterday, we woke up already in Fiabacet, our diving destination for the day. The early morning dive happened in one of the archipelago s most renowned soft coral gardens: Nudi Rock. With a manageable current pushing from the north, our divers had the opportunity to swim along a protected sloping reef searching for critters, like the Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Long nose Hawk fish, Candy Crab and a few anemone shrimps. The end of the dive, though, made it hard on our divers to come up, since the astonishing coral garden in the shallow southern plateau of this site was on its full display!
The following dive of the day happened in the neighbor Tank Rock and, due to stronger currents, was a more active dive, where pelagic like Spanish Mackerel, White tip and a few Grey Reef Sharks (including juvenile ones) were seen along this sloping reef. It was not all about schooling fish being chased by bigger animals, since the top of the ridge that forms this reefs has also an impressive coral garden of its own, where Bumphead Parrotfish, Napoleon Wrasse, Brown-marbled Grouper and critters like Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Peacock-tail Anemone Shrimp and Porcelain Crab were pointed out.
Still in the same group of islets, we visited the western tip of Boo on our third dive. With the sun on its brightest moment of the day, the reef itself offered another spectacle to our divers with its colors as vibrant as ever. It was also an excellent macro dive for our photographers, since Bargibanti, Denise (including the red color variation) Pygmy Seahorse, Brown-banded Pipefish, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Orangutan Crab and a few nudibranchs, including from the Nembrotha genus, were pointed out. What a day in Fiabacet!
The sunset happened along a now cloudy sky and once it became darker we started gearing up for the night dive, done in Whale Rock. On its shallow water plateau, the dive masters pointed out a few critters to our guests, including nudibranchs, Crocodile Flathead, Hydroid Crab and also a few Day Octopuses, including two specimens into a mating ritual!
When everybody was back on board and had their showers, we got together in the salon for another menu-served dinner. Once the meal was over, a presentation about Manta Rays was given, mentioning the species in the world, some of their general characteristics and also threats to their existence due to human activities. That was all for the evening and most guests opted to rest immediately afterwards. Tonight we sleep in Fiabacet.
Tuesday January 16th
Before the sunrise, we already threw the anchor in the vicinity of a seamount named Grouper Net to start the last day of diving in the southern Raja Ampat. Along the wall and overhangs populated by sponges and soft coral, the dive masters started the dive looking for macro subjects, among them Ringed Pipefish, Papuan Scorpionfish, Boxer Crab and also a Black Giant Frogfish! Towards the end of the dive, in the shallow top of one of the seamounts, our groups also had the opportunity to watch a beautiful school of Yellowtail Fusiliers hovering around, all this with a gentle current and visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet.
North of Grouper Net, in the region of Balbulol, we had the second dive of the day in Plateau, where the amount of critters and macro life is astonishing. Varied species of nudibranchs were seen, including from the genus Glossodoris, Chromodoris, Nembrotha and Tambja, along with flatworms, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Brown-banded Pipefish, Zanzibar Wire Coral Shrimp, and more. On the way to the safety stop, a small school of Bumphead Parrotfish caught the attention of our divers.
Our last dive in Misool happened in one of the archipelago denser soft coral gardens, Love Potion No. 9. With the currents blowing from the south, our groups spent the entire dive on the sheltered northern part slowly swimming among huge coral heads, hard coral formations and plenty of xenia soft coral. For the ones looking for macro subjects, they didn t leave disappointed with the amount of nudibranchs, blennies, dragonets and also a Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse found.
When the last group returned and had a warm cup of tea to keep the shivers from the rain (which was present the whole day), came the time to rest before the dinner, which was served earlier today as we started the crossing towards the Central Raja Ampat, also known as the Dampier Strait. Once the meal was over, Urik gave a presentation about sharks, mentioning general characteristics, a few curious facts and threats due to overfishing. It was the last activity of the evening and most of our guests used to opportunity to have an earlier, longer night of sleep.
Wednesday January 17th
The day started with another cloudy sky among us as we started gearing up for the first dive of the day, in one of Raja Ampat s most fascinating hard coral garden: Melissa s Garden. The scenery on this site is fabulous itself, especially due to the dense and extensive hard coral formations on its shallow water plateau, where fish like anthias, damsel, snappers, butterfly, angel, parrot and others feed on the nutrient-rich currents while also dodging resilient attacks from Orange-spotted and Blue-fin Trevallies and the occasional Napoleon Wrasse. With manageable currents and visibility at around 20 meters/66 feet, there was also plenty of action involving pelagic life, including Black tip, Grey and White tip Reef Shark, Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel chasing fusiliers all around. Oh! It was also our first opportunity to see a Wobbegong Shark!
Slightly west from the previous site we arrived in the seamount named My Reef and it was another fishy dive, which is usually the case in the Central Raja Ampat. Schooling Big-Eye Jacks, fusiliers, batfish and a few Red Snappers were seen hovering in front of the sloping reef, whereas on the top of the mount, Wobbegong Shark, Ringed Pipefish, Tasseled Scorpionfish and nudibranchs, like the Banana Nudibranch were also seen. A lovely dive, especially considering the currents were relatively mild and the visibility of about 25 meters/82 feet.
The third dive happened around the island of Peneimu, on a ridge named Galaxy, usually an interesting spot for macro photography and critter hunting. This time, even with the presence of a southeastern current, was not different and the dive masters pointed out Bargibanti and Denise (including the red color variation) Pygmy Seahorse, juvenile and adult Reef Octopus, Ringed and Mushroom Coral Pipefish, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, and also a considerable giant clam towards the end of the dive.
Following the third dive, our guests had time to hydrate themselves with coconut water before getting ready for our land activity. A supervised trek to Peneimu famous viewpoint, where the ones who went could contemplate the karts formations and the region s blue water lagoon.
The sunset happened among the clouds, which didn t leave the sky throughout the day, and as we headed back to the island of Keruo, close to our second dive site. The night dive happened in Keruo Night and was filled with pleasant surprises, including toadfish, octopus, juvenile cuttlefish, Decorator Crab and also a juvenile Epaulette Shark. A great night dive!
With the night divers back on board it was time for dinner. Once our guests finished dessert, Urik preceded with a presentation about the archipelago of Derawan, Raja Ampat Aggressor s summer destination! Afterwards all guests opted to rest before our last full day of diving. The boat sleeps around Keruo tonight.
Thursday January 18th
After most days of cloudy skies early in the morning, we were blessed with a bright sunrise as our divers started gearing up for the first dive of the day, done in the seamount Mayhem I, in the region of Yangeffo. It was the first outstanding day of a spectacular day of diving! With mild currents, and visibility of about 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, the congregation of fish around the reef was mind blowing, as it seemed like it was raining fusiliers from the shallows. As our groups continued drifted along the side of the mount, a wide variety of wide-angle photography opportunities were presented due to the beautiful mix of hard and soft coral among rocky formations and sandy patches. As for more marine life, Bumphead Parrotfish, Napoleon Wrasse, Black tip Reef Sharks, schooling batfish, Pick-handle Barracudas and Big-Eye Jacks as well as a couple of Wobbegong Sharks!
Once the last group returned we started heading south, towards the islet of Arborek where we would visit one of the Manta Ray cleaning stations of the region: Manta Ridge. Even though the currents were a factor to be considered, the dive masters helped our groups to position themselves properly in order to watch an incredible show given by at least six different Reef Manta Rays that, at some point, hovered so close above the head of our divers that it seemed they would land on them. An absolutely unforgettable experience to be so close to these majestic animals while they cleaned and also fed on the nutrient-rich currents!
As we started heading further south some of our guests could finally enjoy the siesta on the sun deck. On time we arrived in the southern part of Mansuar Island, where we dove in the bay facing the jetty of the Sawandarek village. A relaxing drift along the sloping reef, this dive offered a bit of everything: Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Giant Mantis, schooling Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers, Oriental and Diagonal Banded Sweetlips, Wobbegong Shark, schooling batfish and drummers, Hairy Shrimp, Giant Clams and a beautiful scenery with the sun rays passing by the jetty as our divers approached the end of the dive.
The night dive happened east of Sawandarek, around the jetty of another village: Yanbubba. As it couldn t be any different, a great night dive to finish a fantastic day of diving. Among the critters and macro subject found by the dive masters, a few highlights included juvenile Reef Octopus, Crocodile Flathead, juvenile Reef Stonefish, Hydroid Crab and also a Robust Ghost Pipefish!
When our night divers returned on board, the bell rang for dinner. The meal was followed by an explanation of our last full day of diving and consequently a presentation about the Epaulette Shark, the friendly walking shark that we ve seen in some of our past night dives. Afterwards a few guests stayed around talking about the dives of today while others opted to rest straight away. The boat sleeps in Yanbubba tonight.
Friday January 19th
Before the day started, another cloudy one, we arrived in the surroundings of the Mioskon islet, in the Dampier Strait. Close by, we did the first dive in another of Raja Ampat s celebrated site: the seamount named Blue Magic. Known for being a Manta Ray cleaning station, our divers got to see two Oceanic specimen, possibly measuring up to 5 meters/17 feet! Besides that, due to the currents present, a lot of action could also be seen and some pelagic life like Grey and Black tip Reef Shark, Potato Grouper, Pick-handle Barracudas, Dogtooth Tuna and other schooling fish like squirrelfish, jacks, fusiliers, rabbit and surgeonfish populated the reef and were contemplated by our divers who were hooked on the shallow part of the seamount.
The following dive happened slighter to the south, in another seamount, named Sardine Reef. With an ebbing tide, we jumped on the eastern tip of the mount and stayed on the split point for most of the dive enjoying the fish action, especially as a quantity impossible to measure of fusiliers were being actively chased by Spanish Mackerels, Napoleon Wrasses, Giant Trevallies, Blue-fin and Orange-spotted Trevallies and Red Snappers as well. In fact, this dive was another opportunity for our groups to hear the fish thunder : the noise resulting from a considerable mass of fish moving at the same time, which happens as the fusiliers collectively retreat towards the reef once the strikes from the predators happened.
Once the last divers returned from the water, the crew started taking care of rinsing all of their dive equipment and hanging everything to dry. While this happened our guests had lunch, which was followed by the showing of the video of week, made with marine life highlights seen during the week as well as some footage of all out of the water as well. Finished the video, the boutique was opened for the ones who decided to bring a souvenir back home before the afternoon was given for rest.
At the schedule time, we gathered for the farewell party, another opportunity for the crew to play a few songs for everyone. It was also a moment for us to thank our guests for the visit and recognize some milestones as well as distribute a few awards.
Robyn (300), Ian (300), Markus (300) and Simo (1000) were congratulated on their milestones reached during the cruise!
Martin was also rewarded for completing his SSI Enriched Air Nitrox course!
Finally, our Aggressor Iron Divers, the ones who completed all the available ones during the cruise were Sab, Simo, Ian and Robyn. Great job!
Once the farewell party was over, the guests had time to start packing their luggage before we had an earlier dinner on board. The meal was followed by an explanation of the checkout procedure as well as a slideshow with pictures taken by the guests during the cruise. It was our last activity of the night and most decided to rest for their long journey on the following day. The boat is anchored at the port of Sorong.
Saturday January 20th
At the scheduled time the crew was waiting for our guests at the dive deck in order to bid their farewells and wish all a safe journey back home. It was a pleasure having you guys on board during this last 10 days and we wish to see you all again in the future. Happy Bubbles!