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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *22 December 2016
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C
*Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Cruise Director: Urik
Chief Officer: Ferdi
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Chef Assistant: Destri
Dive master: Jemy
Dive master: Yamin
Dive master: Abdul
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Fr: Sagof, Farondi Seamount, Baby Rock, Wagmab
Sa: No Contest, Love Potion No.9, Plateau, Love Potion No.9
Su: Batu Hitam (Black Rock), Andiamo, Andiamo, Candy Store
Mo: Boo Window, Yellit Kecil, Shadow Reef, Romeo
Tu: Tank Rock, Whale Rock, Nudi Rock
We: Shadow Reef, Boo West, Gouper Net
Th: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo (Night)
Fr: Cape Kri, Blue Magic, Friwinbonda, Saonek Jetty
Sa: Blue Magic, Mioskon
GUESTS: Ron, Tonie, Steve, Dave, Marcos, Elke, Anita, Jarek, Henny, Ahd, Bill, Joe, Mel, Lawrence, Lahna, Vijay
Thursday December 22nd
On time our guests arrived and were greeted by the crew. Urik, the cruise director, took them to their respective staterooms and, after having a look around the boat, it was time for lunch. Following that we had a short briefing about the boat, schedule and safety procedures. The rest of the day was used for resting, getting comfortable in the room and setting up the dive and photo equipment.
Dinner was served and after the guests were done eating was time for the crew to surprise two of our guests, Henny and Ahd, by congratulating them for their 20th anniversary of marriage. A cake was prepared and we celebrated with champagne!
Right after Urik explained the diving logistics and the crew presented themselves. Finally all went to their rooms as the vessel was already on its way to Misool, south Raja Ampat.
Friday December 23rd
Woke up in the surroundings of the Two Tree Island, the destination for the day. After a light breakfast it was time for our first dive to make the proper checks and assure all the equipment was ready to go. The visibility was outstanding (20+ meters/66+ feet) and the curent was very mild. The dive site was Sagof and our guests could already see Bumphead Parrotfishes and schooling Yellowtail Fusiliers and Batfishes passing around the top of the reef, covered in soft coral and hosting a few boomies. For the ones who decided to dive with macro lenses, the dive guides spotted different species of nudibranchs and flatworms, alongside some crustaceans, like the Bubble Coral Shrimp.
After a full breakfast and some rest it was time for the second dive of the day, in Farondi Seamount. This dive was a good opportunity for the guests to try their wide-angle lenses since schooling Yellowtail and Pick-handle Barracudas, congregating Five Lined, Two-spot and Spanish Flag Snappers, Bumphead Parrotfishes, a Napoleon Wrasse and a Wobbegong Shark were seen. As for the smaller creatures, some nudibranchs, shrimps and a juvenile Spotfin Lionfish were the highlights.
Next in the schedule was time for lunch and rest before the following dive, done in Baby Rock. According to the divers, it was an amazing one because of the combination of conditions (non-existant currents and great visibility) and abundance of macro life. In fact, in the shallow area of this small reef covered in soft coral and sea fans, the variety of nudibranchs and flatworms found was great. All those spotted among pipefishes, like the Orange-spotted and Ornate Ghostpipe, scorpionfish, like the Tasseled, and even an octopus!
Coming back from the third dive was time for a cruise, supervised by Urik, around the island of Wagmab, which included a stop in a lagoon hosting non-stinging jellyfish. The guests had some time to jump in the water, swim around them and take some pictures.
The night dive was done in Wagmab and highlights were critters like Bobtail Squid, Pygmy Cuttlefish and a few crustaceans (e.g. Marbled Shrimp). After the divers came back was time for dinner and a presentation, done by the cruise director, about the history, geography and biodiversity of Raja Ampat. In the midst of it the crew surprised Urik with a cake to celebrate his birthday! Finally, after this busy and exciting day, most of their guests retired to their staterooms for rest while others stayed around for a bit adjusting their photo equipment.
Saturday December 24h
East from Wagmab is Balbulol, our destination for this day. Our first dive of the was in No Contest. The current was non-existant and the visibility was, again, great (25+ meters/82+ feet). The highlights were mostly the schooling fish that made the day of our photographers that chosen wide angle lenses: Yellowtail Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks, rabbitfishes and fusiliers gathered around the two pinnacles that form this site. Also seen were Bumphead Parrotfish and Napoleon Wrasse. A mind-blowing dive, said one of the divers!
The second dive was in Love Potion No. 9 and it dense soft coral colonies that cover both the northern wall and eastern ridge. This dive site was convenient for both macro and wide-angle photography. Nudibranchs, sea slugs and flatworms, together with Orangutan Crab, Bubble Coral Shrimp and Crocodile Flathead were some of the life seen. For the last group a wide variety of coral species, like table, elephant ear, lettuce and leather could be photographed.
After lunch and rest was time for the third dive, in Plateau. Even though the divers had a nice encounter with a group of four bottlenose dolphins and there were also schooling surgeonfishes hanging in the split point, this was a dive mostly for macro lovers. Our dive guides spotted shrimps, like the Mushroom Coral and Zanzibar Whip Coral, nudibranchs, like the Blue Dragon, a Banded Pipefish and scorpionfishes, in between others.
After sunset, the night dive took place in Love Potion No. 9. As for the highlights, a few were: Decorator and Hydroid Crab, Squat Anemone Shrimp, Blue-spotted Stingray, Skeleton Shrimp. It was also the first opportunity for some of our guests to see the Epaulette (walking) Shark, which has one specie endemic from Raja Ampat.
With everyone back on board was time for dinner and for Urik to share some of his underwater photography work coupled with suggestion about composition of images with the divers. By the time it was finished some guests stayed up working on their equipment and others then retired to their staterooms. The boat stayed in the area for the night.
Sunday December 25th
Next morning, before sunrise, we were on our way to Daram, southeast from Balbulol. Before arriving in the final destination we made a stop in Black Rock (Batu Hitam), our first dive site of the day. With manageable current and good visibility (15 meters/50 feet), the divers enjoyed the pelagics passing by the slopping reef filled with fans and glassy sweepers: Spanish Mackerel, Yellowtail Barracuda, Orange-spotted Jack and schooling fusiliers were seen. For the ones who decided to pick macro lenses, a Denise Pygmy Seahorse and nudibranchs were some of the highlights.
The next two dives were done in the same site, Andiamo. According to the guests, both of them were fantastic! The first was done in the extending ridge densely covered in hard and soft coral that host an abundant amount of fish that forms schools and congregations, like the Blue-lined Snapper. Hidden in crevices were also seen Oriental and Diagonal-banded Sweetlips and a Malabar Grouper. By the end of the dive the divers also got the opportunity to photograph schooling batfishes!
The third dive of the day, in the same place, was done around the two pinnacles that rise slightly northwest of the two islets standingout of the water. For the ones who decided to shoot macro, Denise and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorses, anemone shrimps and other crustaceans were spotted by our dive guides. As for the others who use wide-angle lenses, Yellowtail Barracuda, Giant Trevally, Whitetip Reef Shark and an astonishing plateau vibrant with colors composed by the soft and hard coral that cover almost every part of the substrate.
The night dive, done in the neighbour Candy Store, offered an opportunity to spot critters like the Randall Frogfish, besides crustaceans, like the Boxer Crab and two octopi. Finally, once everyone was back, it was time for dinner and following it Urik shared a presentation on Pygmy Seahorses, talking about where they live and some of their behavior traits. After that was time for some work on the photos taken and sleep. By this time we were on our way further south, to the region around the island of Boo.
Important to notice this day the we, crew and guests, all celebrated Christmas and had a special dinner menu. Our dive guides even used their santa hats during the dives!
Monday December 26th
We woke up on the east side of Boo island, where we done our first dive of the day in Boo Window, famous for a swim-trough well suited for photography. This was, to start the day, a great dive according to the guests with highlights for both macro and wide-angle photography. As for the first groups, mantis shrimps, pipefish and bottom-dwellers like the Tasseled Scorpionfish were seen. For the second, pelagics like the Grey and Blacktip Reef Shark and also a Reef Manta Ray being cleaned were pointed out!
The second dive was in Yellit Kecil, a neighboor site. Schooling Pick-handle Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks and batfish were seen cruising along the reef densely covered in soft coral, both alongside the wall and the slope side. As for the macro life, Orangutan Crab, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and the endemic Raja Ampat Denise Pygmy Seahorse were photographed!
Third dive of the day was done further southeast, in Shadow Reef (a.k.a. Magic Mountain). This dive, as usual, was an amazing one especially because the possibility to spot Oceanic and Reef Mantas being cleaned in the several cleaning station distributed in this seamount. The visibility was slightly more limited than on the previous two dives (around 15 meters/50 feet) and the current was slightly stronger but none of these factores keep the divers from enjoying the sights of Whitetip, Grey Reef and other pelagics cruising along this reef hosting a lot of fish and great coral cover, both hard and soft species. A fantastic dive!
After coming back was time for some rest and the last dive of the day, a night dive in Romeo. Some of the celebrated creatures of this dive were: Epaulette (walking) Sharks, Wobbegong Shark, Juvenile Reef Octopus, Crinoid Squat Lobster. A great night dive! Back on board we had dinner and Urik did a presentation on the nocturnal Epaulette Shark, which all the divers had a chance to see and photograph on the dive. Following this fantastic day of diving, most of our guests retired to their rooms to rest as we were already on our way to Fiabacet.
Tuesday December 27th
Already in Fiabacet, early in the morning we started preparing for the first dive of the day, in Tank Rock. Some current was present, which brought schooling fishes closer to the this reef that hosts colonies of soft coral, boomies and some tables of coral used by groupers and other fishes as a cleaning station. As for the photographers, some of the highlights included Napoleon Wrasse, Bumphead Parrotfish, Giant Trevally, Grey Reef Shark and a Reef Manta Ray were spotted. Besides that, Mantis Shrimp and anemone shrimps were seen. A great dive!
Next dive was in Whale Rock, done with great visibility (20+ meters/66+ feet). This time some of the highlights included: different nudibranchs, Crocodile Flathead, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Hawksbill Turtle, Bunphead Parrotfish and even two juvenile Whitetip Reef Sharks hidden under a table of coral. All this while cruising alongside the southern wall covered in gorgonians, sponges and branching soft coral and finishing the dive in the plateau that hosts a wide variety of hard and soft coral.
The third dive of the day was in also in this region, in Nudi Rock, a dive site that gets its name for the formation of the islet, reminding a nudibranch. For the ones who decided to photograph with wide-angle lense, Hawksbill Turtle, Yellowtail Barracudas, Giant Sweetlips, besides the incredible soft coral garden present on this site were subjects. As for the macro life, a wide variety of colorful gobies, Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse were captured.
After sunset we all had dinner and during dessert Urik talked about the schedule for the following days, including the crossing to Central Raja Ampat, anda little bit about the behavior of Manta Rays. After that some guests stayed around talking, while others were working on their photography work and some retired to their staterooms for rest for the next day, our last in South Raja Ampat. We stayed in Fiabacet for the evening.
Wednesday December 28th
Early in the morning we were on our way southeast towards Shadow Reef to, in behalf of the guests interests, to dive in this site again. It was an early morning dive, which means the divers were in the water at 6:00. It was another amazing dive, with schooling fish swimming feeding in the current. Some of the highlights were: Wobbegong Shark, Grey and Whitetip Reef Shark, congregating snappers, schooling jacks and fusiliers and also Manta Rays!
After a longer surface interval in order to resume to our original schedule we did our second dive, in Boo West. This was a dive suitable for both macro and wide angle photography. Denise and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Oranguntan Crab, Whip Coral Shrimp and different nudibranchs were subjects for the first group. As for the second, Mobula Rays, Yellowtail Barracuda, Bumphead Parrotfish and schooling fish swimming around the seamount covered in hard and soft coral were photographed.
Finally, already on our way north we did our last dive in South Raja Ampat, in Grouper Net. It was a very good dive with, again, a lot of fish cruising around the pinnacles that form this site. Fusiliers, lots of Orange-spotted Jack, Giant Trevally were some of the pelagic life seen. As for the creatures that stay around the reef, some of highlights included: Warty Frogfish, Reef Stonefish, lionfishes and also a few congregations of Glassy Sweepers.
This day we had no night dive as we were crossing toward Central Raja Ampat, the region also known as the Dampier Strait. The dinner was a bit earlier and after it the guests shared some of their underwater photography work made so far during the trip on a photo review. Having finished the activities for the day, some of the guests stayed up talking while others retired to sleep.
Thursday December 29th
Early in the morning we arrived in the region of Peneimu, already in Central Raja Ampat. Our first dive of the day was in the extensive hard coral cover of Melissas Garden. It was a great dive according to the guests and some of the highlights included Wobbegong Shark, Hawksbill Turtle, Napoleon Wrasse, a few morays for the ones photographing with wide-angle lenses and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp and Orangutan Crab for the ones shooting macro.
The second dive was in Keruo Channel and its beautiful coral garden, mixing both soft and hard species. A dense school of batfish caught the attention of the divers right in the beginning of the dive, together with schooling fusiliers and Long-Jawed Mackerels. Besides that, also spotted were a Day Octopus, Ribbon Eel, besides a considerable amount of smaller fishes (anthis, damselfishes, etc) cruising close to the coral formations.
Next dive was done in Galaxy and our guests had mostly opted for macro lenses. Considering that, besides a Wobbegong Shark, our guests focused on smaller creatures, like a Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Mushroom Coral Pipefish, anemone shrimp, mantis shrimp, nudibranchs and flatworms, plenty to be photographed! The visibility, as it was the case for the whole day, was excellent (20+ meters/66+ feet) and the currents were sometimes present, some not, as we approach new moon.
After the third dive our guests had the opportunity to go on a tour, together with the cruise director Urik, to a view point that allow its visitors to gaze at the lagoons formed in between little limestone islets, known as karst formations. Most did the tour and had a great time!
Finally, everyone was back and it was time for the night dive, done in Keruo (Night). There were a few highlights on this one, including another Wobbegong, Pygmy Cuttlefish, Pygmy Squid (eating a shrimp!), Pygmy Octopus, shrimps, crabs and a few morays, like the Fimbriated Moray.
With everybody back on board, we then proceeded with dinner. After that, some of our guests stayed in the salon watching a movie, while others prepared their cameras for the next morning and a few already retired to their staterooms. A very nice day of diving to start our stay in the Dampier Strait, Central Raja Ampat.
Friday December 30th
Early in the morning we were already further east in the Dampier Strait, where we did our first dive, in Cape Kri. Some current was present and with it pelagic life: Giant Trevally, Napoleon Wrasse, Bumphead Parrotfish, Malabar Grouper, Blacktip Reef Shark, Red Snapper and Yellowtail Barracuda. Also closer to the reef the divers have seen Giant Sweetlips, Wobbegong Shark and even a Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse!
The second dive of the day was in Blue Magic, one of the most famous dives in Raja Ampat. It was an opportunity for the divers to see schooling cardinalfishes, Yellowtail Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks, fusiliers and a few Spanish Mackerel together with a Dogtooth Tuna passing by. On the top of this seamount, covered in soft, hard coral and hosting a few boomies, Wobbegong Shark, Leaf Scorpionfish and Whitetip Reef Shark were some of the other higlights. A great dive overall!
As for the third dive we stopped by Friwinbonda and its wall covered in sponges and soft coral that continues along a slope that add to the mix some hard coral, like tables, staghorn and elkhorn. This dive was mostly for macro photography and some of the highlights were Denise and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Crocodile Flathead, Tasseled Scorpionfish, nudibranchs and flatworms. All this cruising along the reef with barely any current and with visibility around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet.
Our last night dive of the trip was done in the jetty of Saonek. Hosting a variety of critters, some of the highlights were: Bobtail Squid, Pygmy Cuttlefish, Crocodile Flathead, Reef Stonefish, juvenile Scorpionfish, squid and octopus. An excellent night dive! With everyone back on board, Urik did a presentation explained the shedule of the following day, our last full one together. Finally, most of the guests retired to get some rest.
Saturday December 31st
We woke up around Mioskon for our last two dives of this trip. The first was done in one of the dive sites visited on the previous day, Blue Magic and it was an astonishing dive. Some of the higlights included: schooling Yellowtail and Pick-handle Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks, Spanish Mackerel, Oceanic Triggerfish, cardinalfish, fusiliers and surgeonfish along the reef. Besides that, Whitetip, Blacktip, Grey Reef and Wobbegong Shark were spotted closer to the this seamount where our dive guides also pointed out a couple of Leaf Scorpionfishes. As if it wasnt enough, during the safety stop an Oceanic Manta Ray was around getting cleaned. An amazing dive!
The second dive was in the neighbour Mioskon and was also a pleasant one. Wobbegong Shark, schooling Blue-linded, Two-spot and Spanish Flag Snappers were some of the subjectes of the ones who decided to use wide-angle lenses. As for the macro shooters, Crocodile Flathead, Mushroom Coral Shrimp, Orangutan Crab and Tasseled Scorpionfish were pointed out by our guides.
After coming back it was time for lunch and for Urik to show a video filled with images from our trip, both underwater and on the boat and it was available for our guests to purchase and bring the memories back home. After that, some guests decided to rest while others packed and around sunset time we had our farewell party, when the crew played some music, memories were shared and awards were given to our nine Aggressor Iron Divers.
Were they: Dave, Steve, Anita, Jarek, Bill, Mel, Lawrence, Lahna and Vijay. Congratulations on completing all dives available!
Finally, we had our last dinner, on board, together and after it a slideshow was shown with the pictures our divers took during this last ten days. Last, Urik detailed the transfer procedures for the following day. By this time we were already in the port of Sorong.
Sunday January 1st
We woke up and had an early light breakfast. After that, with their luggage already ready, all the crew said goodbye to our guests and wished them a safe trip. We hope to see them again on board of the Raja Ampat Aggressor!