Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *21 January 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C
*Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Cruise Director: Urik
Assistant CD: Cassio
Chief Officer: Ferdi
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Deck Hand: Jasman
Dive master: Jemy
Dive master: Hery
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Su: Sagof, Farondi Seamount, Batu Kecil (Baby Rock), Wagmab
Mo: Batu Hitam (Black Rock), Andiamo, Candy Store, Candy Store
Tu: Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef), Boo Window, Yillet Kecil, Romeo
We: Nudi Rock, Tank Rock, Boo West, Whale Rock
Th: Antichovy (Grouper Net), Plateau, Love Potion No. 9
Fr: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo (Night)
Sa: Manta Sandy, Sawandarek Jetty, Cape Mansuar, Yenbubba Jetty
Su: Cape Kri, Sardine Reef, Friwinbonda, Friwinbonda
Mo: Mioskon, Blue Magic
GUESTS: Christine, Randy, Ed, Jenny, Bobby, Katja, Rick, Julia, Doug, Diego, Emily
Saturday January 21st
Timely the guests arrived onboard and were greeted by our crew. Before anything, they were shown their respective staterooms and had some time to get acquainted before we had lunch and Urik, our cruise director, did a presentation about the boat, including safety procedures. After that the group had time to rest or unpack the dive gear with the help of our divemasters, Hery and Jemy.
Already cruising toward the South region of Raja Ampat, the guests had time to enjoy the sunset and after it we gathered to have a special dinner prepared by our chef, Michael. During dessert the crew presented itself one time more to the guests and then Urik did another presentation about the dive logistics on our vessel. That was the last activity for the night in order to respect proper time for our guests to rest after a long journey. Most retired to their rooms once it was finished while others stayed around talking for a bit.
Sunday January 22nd
First our in the morning we arrived at the Two Tree Island, in the area of Sagof. Our first dive of the day was done, after a light breakfast, in Sagof and, being it the check dive, the divers had plenty of time to evaluate their gear and buyancy throughout the dive to get acquainted. The visibility, as it was for the day, was excellent (25+ meters/82+ feet) and the currents were mild. Some of the highlights of this dive were: Bumphead Parrotfish, Giant Trevally, Bubble Coral Shrimp, Ringed Pipefish, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and also schooling fusiliers.
As our guests came back from diving it was time for a full breakfast and some rest before the second dive, done in Farondi Seamount. With slightly more current the divers got to see a little bit more pelagic life: Giant Trevally, schooling Orange-spotted and Big-Eye Jacks, Pick-handle and Yellowtail Barracuda and also congregatting Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snapper. Jemy, one of our divemasters, pointed out the first Wobbegong Shark of the trip. A great dive!
Again onboard was time for lunch, served by our waitress and housekeeper, Ani and Betty, and a longer resting period followed it. The third dive followed and was done in Batu Kecil (Baby Rock), with its colorful soft coral garden. A few species of nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha, and flatworms, a Denise Pygmy Seahorse and Brown-Banded Pipefish were some of the macro subjects pointed our by Hery, our divemaster. Besides those schooling Batfish, a Brown-Marbled Grouper and a Hawksbill Turtle were also seen.
With a snack waiting the groups in the dive deck, the divers had time to enjoy the sunset before we started preparing for the night dive, done in Wagmab, northwest of Sagof. Some of the highlights included: Decorator Crab, Pygmy Squid, flatworms, a couple of Squid and the first Epaulette Shark of the trip, also known as the Walking Shark!
Our last activity together this day was dinner. During dessert the cruise director, Urik, did a presentation about the history, geography and biodiversity of the Raja Ampat region. Afterwards most of the guests retired to their staterooms while others stayed around working on their photos. The vessel sleeps in the area tonight.
Monday January 23rd
We started the engines just before sunrise on our way to the region of Daram. Before we stopped for the first of the day, in Batu Hitam (Black Rock, in Indonesian). The visibility was excellent (25+ meters/82+ feet) and the currents were mild, enough to make this a very fishy dive. Schooling batfish, fusiliers, Red Snappers, Orange-spotted Jacks and Yellowtail Barracuda were seen on the blue. Closer to the reef, congregations of Blue-lined Snappers hovering above Glassy Sweepers, and a Wobbegong Shark were spotted. For the macro lovers, a Leaf Scorpionfish and a Painted Frogfish were two highlights. On top of that, some guests got to see Mobula Rays passing by, great dive!
The second dive was already in Daram, Andiamo. The conditions resembled the previous dive and around the two pinnacles present on this big dive site, both covered in hard coral and gorgonians, schooling Yellowtail Barracuda, Bumphead Parrotfish and fusiliers gave quite an impression, together with a couple of Giant Trevally and Spanish Mackerel. On a plateau densely covered in staghorn, table and other kinds of hard coral couple with plenty of soft coral species, divers got to see anemone shrimps, nudibranchs and a Malabar Grouper, in between others.
As for the following dive, done in Candy Store, and it colorful pinnacle coupled with a rocky plateau, there were also plenty of highlights. Hawksbill Turtle, Bumphead Parrotfish, Napoleon Wrasse and a Blue-spotted Stingray were some of the animals seen cruising along the reef. As for the critters, a Day Octopus and a Ringed Pipefish were pointed out by our divemasters.
The night dive was also in Candy Store and there were plenty of crustaceans to see: Porcelain Crab, Marbled Shrimp and Boxer Crab, for example. A Fimbriated Moray Eel was also pointed out alongside a Papuan Scorpionfish. Some of the divers also got a glimpse of another Epaulette Shark. Back from the last dive of the day, we had dinner and afterwards a presentation was done about the recently seen Epaulette (walking) Shark. Finally, most of the guests retired to their rooms while others stayed talking for a bit. By this time we were on our way to the region around Warakaraket island.
Tuesday January 24th
Early in the morning, already around Warakaraket, we did our first dive of the morning in Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef, in Indonesian). The dive in this seamount covered in soft coral in colours going from purple to pink to orange to red was spectacular. Schooling fusilieres, surgeonfish, rabbitfish, Yellowtail Barracuda, Big-Eye Jack, Orange-spotted Trevally patrolling the reef while Giant Trevally, Napoleon Wrasse, Malabar Grouper, Whitetip and Grey Reef Shark eventually passed by in front of the divers made a great view. Besides that, Red Snappers and a considerable quantity of smallers fishes like Anthias, Damselfishes and Wrasses also gave quite an impression to the dive. To finish, two Wobbegong Sharks were also pointed out!
The second dive was slightly north, in Boo Window. Besides the window formation present on the topography of this site, a must see for wide-angle photographers, the groups got to see congregating Spanish Flag Snappers, Blubberlip Snapper, Bumphead Parrotfish, Giant Trevally and a Blacktip Reef Shark. Some macro life, in the form of Denise Pygmy Seahorse, scorpionfish and a few nudibranchs were also caught by the cameras.
Our following dive was in Yillet Kecil, north of Boo. The visibility of 25+ meters/82+ feet and gentle currents, as it was for the other previous two dives, also made this dive very enjoyable for our guests. Schooling batfish and Pick-handle Barracuda were seen, together with a few different species of nudibranchs, like the Glossodoris, and the endemic Raja Ampat Denise Pygmy Seahorse, pointed out by our divemasters!
The night dive was in the neighbour site called Romeo. The highlight, as it usually is in this site, was an opportunity to spot the Epaulette Walking Shark exhibiting some behaviors. In fact, some of the divers got to see a couple feeding! Coming back from the dive was time for shower and dinner. After it Urik did a presentation on Pygmy Seahorses and its habitat. Time then came for our guests to rest or work on their underwater photography work. The boat sleept in the area for the night and we head to Fiabacet tomorrow early.
Wednesday January 25th
Before sunrise we were already in Fiabacet as timely started preparing for the first dive of the day, in Nudi Rock and its breathtaking soft coral garden, which includes a rare pink anemone aggregation. Some of the highlights of this dive were Bumphead Parrotfish, Hawksbill Turtle, Grey and Blacktip Reef Shark. Macro life was present too in the form of, in between others, Mantis Shrimp, Bargibanti and Denise Raja Ampat Pygmy Seahorse and a few Allied Cowries. The visibility, as it has been during the trip, was around 25+ meters/82+ feet and the currents were mild.
The following morning dive was done in the neighbour Tank Rock, also hosting a vast coral garden, that included hard and soft species. Giant Trevallys, fusiliers, surgeonfishes were cruising on the blue, while of the reef artropods like anemone shrimps, Porcelain Crabs and the Denise Pygmy Seahorse were pointed out by our divemasters. As another highlight, one of our groups could see an Oceanic Manta Ray passing by!
Our third dive was done in Boo West, a sloping reef covered in soft coral like species that, after a gap, is neighbour to a seamount filled with gorgonians, whip coral and, on the top, soft and hard coral, including a table coral that measures up to 4 meters/13 feet. Schooling Yellowtail Fusiliers, Orange-spotted and Blue-fin Jacks were hovering above the reef while some critters spotted included Brown-banded Pipefish, Papuan Scorpionfish, Orangutan Crab, Denise Pygmy Seahorse and a few nudibranchs and flatworms.
Around sunset our guests had the opportunity to go, with our cruise director, Urik, and divemaster, Hery, on a visit to the Misool Eco Resort, an opportunity to get to know some of their projects and infrastructure. After the night dive was done in Whale Rock and some of the highlights included: Pygmy Squid, Pygmy Cuttelfish, Spider and Decorator Crab! Finally, back on board was time for dinner and afterwards Urik explained the plan for the following day, which include the crossing to Dampier Strait, Central Raja Ampat. The boat sleeps in Fiabacet tonight.
Thursday January 26th
We woke up on our way to the region of Balbulol, stopping to do our first dive in Antichovy (Grouper Net), a seamount that hosts a breautiful garden of coral (soft, hard, black) and some gorgonians. With excellent visibility (25+ meters/82+ feet) and mild currents, schooling fusiliers, Orange-spotted Jacks and others pelagics like the Napoleon Wrasse were seen on the blue. Along the reef, critters like the Giant Frogfish and Reef Stonefish were pointed out by our dive guides.
The second dive of the day was in Plateau and the groups were hunting for macro life. Bargibanti, Denise and Raja Ampat Denise Pygmy Seahorses were found, different nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, and flatworms too. Pipefishes, like the Brown-banded, were pointed out and scorpionfishes were plentiful. On top of that, crustaceans like the Orangutan Crab were also caught by the cameras.
Following dive, our last of the day, was in Love Potion No. 9 and its dense, colorful soft coral garden. A Banded Sea Snake and a Green Turtle were spotted, alongside a lot of smallers creatures that live on this reef: Pygmy Seahorses in a total of five (!) were seen, Bubble Coral Shrimp, Papuan Scorpionfish, nudibranchs, in between others.
This day we had no night dive because of our crossing to Dampier Strait, Central Raja Ampat, which started right after the third dive. After dinner a presentation on sea turtles was done. Finally, time was given for everyone to rest even though a few of the guests stayed around talking a bit.
Friday January 27th
Early in the morning we were already in the region of Fam and Peneimu, in Central Raja Ampat. Our first dive site for the day was Melissas Garden with its extensive hard coral garden. It was a very fishy dive, with anthias, damselfishes, wrasses swimming close to the acropora hard coral while Orange-spotted Jacks and fusiliers hunted them. Besides that, a Blacktip Reef Shark, a Hawksbill Turtle, a Wobbegong Shark and some Napoleon Wrasses were seen. The currents on this dive were relatively stronger than in the previous days, even though manageable and the visibility was good (15-20 meters/50-66 feet).
Next dive was around the island of Keruo, in the Keruo Channel. It was a great dive for the amount of fish present. Schooling fusiliers, rabbitfishes, surgeonfishes, cardinalfishes, Big-Eye Jacks, Pick-handle Barracudas added to the numbers. Besides those, a few Blacktip Reef Sharks were seen patrolling the reef and the divers got to spend time with a pregnant female Whitetip Reef Shark which was resting on the sandy bottom. On the way to the safety stop a Hawksbill Turtle was passing by while the divers cruised along a long hard coral garden. A beautiful dive, according to the guests!
The third dive of the day was in Galaxy, a spot to look for smallre creatures. Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorses, together with Mushroom Coral and Ringed Pipefish, Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp, Orangutan Crab and other smaller creatures made this a good opportunity for macro photography. Not only that was seen, though, since a Wobbegong Shark was pointed out laying on an Elephant Ear coral.
The night dive was still in the region, done in Keruo (Night). This dive was particularly busy since there were a lot of animals pointed out by our divemasters. Schultz Pipefish, Baby Octopus, Ringed Pipefish, Crinoid Squat Lobsters, a juvenile scorpionfish, in between others. The cherry on top, though, was a Mandarin Fish seen by one of the groups! After this dive we had dinner and finally, as our last activity, Urik did a presentation on the Derawan Islands, Raja Ampat Aggressor next destination coming July 2017! By this time we were already on our way to the region around Arborek.
Saturday January 28th
With the sunset still not in the horizon we arrived in the surroundings of Arborek. Close by we did our first dive of the day, in Manta Sandy, a cleaning station for Reef Manta Rays. The visibility, as it is not uncommon during this time of the year, was around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet and the currents were present bringing nutrients along. As expected, the divers got to see a few Manta Rays both getting cleaned or swimming close to the surface feeding! Besides that, Snake Eel, Mushroom Coral Pipefish and nudibranchs were pointed out.
The following dive was done in the Sawandarek Jetty, a village situated in the island of Mansuar, slightly south. Besides an extensive coral reef, of leather, lettuce, elephant ear and acropora, there were a few creatures seen were Hawksbill and Green Turtle, Blacktip Reef Shark, Yellowtail Barracudas, schooling rabbitfish and batfish and also a couple of Mantas passing on the distance.
Our third dive of the day was in Cape Mansuar, further east. Schooling fish was a highlight of this dive: fusiliers, Redtooth Triggerfish, rabbitfish, surgeonfish and chubs were some of them. Patrolling the reef were a few Blacktip Reef Sharks and Napoleon Wrasses. Besides that, hiding on a rock hosting Glassy Sweepers, was a Wobbegong Shark!
The night dive was done in the same area, in the jetty of the Yenbubba village. There were plenty of highlights in this that was a special dive: Crocodile Flathead, Pygmy Squid, toadfish, Squid, Slippery Lobster, Epaullete Shark, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, juvenile scorpionfish, Spider Crab and, finally, a Blue-ringed Octopus! A memorable dive to end the day. After this nights dinner Urik shared a presentation on some of the former cultural traces of Papua, including the now extinct cannibalism. Time then came for the guests to retire in order to rest.
Sunday January 29th
Before sunrise we were already around the island of Kri, where we did our first dive: Cape Kri. Famous for being a site that usually hosts a lot of different species of fish, it wasnt different today. A considerable school of 40+ Bumphead Parrotfish, a couple of Wobbegong Sharks, patrolling Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Shark were seen amidst schools of Yellowtail Barracuda, Big-Eye Jack and surgeonfish. As for smaller creatures, the highlight of this dive was a Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse. Great dive to start the day!
Following dive was done in Sardine Reef. The visibility, as before, was around 15 meters/50 feet and there were some currents present. The divers used the opportunity to drift along this seamount, watching the fusiliers, Giant Trevally, Spanish Mackerel, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Shark and Yellowtail Barracuda pass by. A few stops were made to take pictures from a Wobbegong Shark and a few other animals along the hard coral garden.
The afternoon dive was further north, in Friwinbonda and it was a good opportunity for macro photography. Bargibanti, Denise and Pontohi Pygmy Seahorses were seen! Our divemasters also pointed out Crocodile Flathead, Whip Coral Shrimp and a few different nudibranchs.
This same dive site also hosted our night dive and it was an opportunity to see, in between others: octopi, nudibranchs, Spider Crab, Pygmy Squid and a few Toadfish! Besides that, there were plenty of other animals seen turning it into an excellent night dive according to the divers. Dinner and shower came and Urik, after explaining our shedule for the following day, our last of day, shared some of his underwater photography work with the guests. Finally, the guests retired to their staterooms to rest. The boat will sleep in the area of Friwinbonda for the night.
Monday January 30th
In the morning we were already around the island of Mioskon, where we have done our first dive. Some of the highlights of this dive were: Wobbegong Shark, Reef Octopus, congregating Blue-Lined, Spanish Flag Snapper and Mimic Goatfish, Brown-Marbled Grouper and also macro life like the Oranguntan and Porcelain Crab and Mantis Shrimp.
The following dive was in the seamount named Blue Magic, thrimming with life, both in the form of fish, coral and critters. Some of the sights were: Grey Reef Shark, Wobbegong Shark, schooling fusiliers, Big-Eye Jack, Pick-handle Barracuda, a few Spanish Mackerels and a couple of Leaf Scorpionfish. Finally, towards the end of the dive an Oceanic Manta Rays appeared on the reef to get cleaned. A great dive to finish this trip!
With everyone on board, the crew took care of the rinsing of the divers equipment and we had lunch. After it Urik showed all the video he prepared during the week with underwater takes from guests and some of the marine life we came across during the trip.
Time was give for rest or start packing and after that we had our farewell party, where both guests and crew gathered to celebrate, chat and some music was played by the crew, followed by Jasman, our guitar player. This was also an opportunity for us to distribute the Aggressor Iron Diver Award. Our Iron Divers were: Christine, Randy, Ed, Bobby, Diego and Emily. Congratulations on completing all available dives during the cruise!
Sunset came and we then stayed on board for a signature dinner offered by the chef. Afterwards we watched a slideshow with pictures taken by the guests during the trip and some of the dives were revisited already. Urik then explained the logistics of transfer for the following day and it was our final activity.
Tuesday January 21s
After light breakfast, time came for our guests to leave the vessel. The crew gathered in the sun deck to say good-bye to all. We wish to see them again sometime in the future on board of the Raja Ampat Aggressor!