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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *08 February 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
Dive master: Jemy
Dive master: Hery
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Th: Two Tree Island, Parondi Seamount, Batu Kecil (Baby Rock), Wagmab
Fr: Batu Hitam (Black Rock), Candy Store, Andiamo, Andiamo
Sa: Boo Window, Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef), Yillet Kecil, Romeo
Su: Gorgonian Passage, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Wedding Cake
Mo: Nudi Rock, Tank Rock, Whale Rock, Whale Rock
Tu: Antichovy (Grouper Net), Plateau, Love Potion No.9
We: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo (Night)
Th: Manta Sandy, Sawandarek Jetty, Cape Mansuar, Yenbubba Jetty
Fr: Cape Kri, Blue Magic
GUESTS: Per, Jennie, Ricky, Nancy, Mark, Sonya, Joe, Patrick, Sofie, Larry, Alain, Isa, John, Adriana, Juli
Wednesday February 8th
Timely our guests arrived on the vessel where the crew was waiting to greet them. First Urik, our cruise director, showed the groups their respective staterooms and we then had a lunch buffet. Once the dessert was served Urik proceeded with a presentation about the boat, including facilities and safety plan. This was also an opportunity for the guests to introduce themselves.
After the meal our divers had the afternoon to rest and prepare their equipment with the help of our divemasters, Hery and Jemy. Everybody had some time to enjoy sunset and afterwards we had a menu served dinner offered by our chef, Jemly. Urik then did a briefing about the diving logistics from our vessel and also shared information on the route we would do on this trip. Towards the end the crew had an opportunity to present themselves to the guests.
This was our last activity and, after a long journey, it was time to rest. By this time we were already on our way to Misool, in South Raja Ampat.
Thursday February 9th
Before the sun was in the sky we arrived in the region of Sagof, our first destination in South Raja Ampat. The first dive, after the light breakfast served early in the morning, was for the guests to check their equipment, buoyancy and start preparation for the trip. The name of the site was Two Tree Island. Currents were mild, while the visibility was around 20 meters / 66 feet. A few highlights could be already mentioned about this dive: Mantis Shrimp, Hawksbill Turtle, Day Octopus, Bumphead Parrotfish, Reef Scorpionfish and a few nudibranchs.
Followed by the first dive was a full breakfast and some rest to prepare for the next dive of the day, in Parondi Seamount, with its top covered in hard coral, including bommies that host a good amount of Glassy Sweepers. Some pelagic life was spotted by our divemasters, Hery and Jemy, like Yellowtail and Pick-handle Barracuda, Giant Trevally and Bumphead Parrotfish. Towards one of the corners of the seamount where the growth of elephant ear coral is plentiful, congregating Blue-lined, Spanish Flag and Two-spot Snappers provided a nice sight to the divers. Finally, it was the first opportunity to see: Banded Sea Snake, Leaf Scorpionfish, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and Wobbegong Shark!
The third dive of the day, done after lunch and rest, was, according to the guests, an amazing one! With visibility around 20-25 meters / 66-82 feet and gentle currents, the guests had the opportunity to see the fish life hovering around a plentiful soft coral garden that mixes orange, yellow, green, red and purple colors. Bumphead Parrortfish, Batfish and a Hawksbill Turtle were seen among schooling fusiliers, rabbitfishes and surgeonfishes. On the reef, Brown-banded Pipefish, Papuan Scorpionfish, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs and flatworms were pointed out to the divers.
As the groups came back onboard and Ani, our waitress, offered them a snack, we started moving towards the northwest, to the region of Wagmab, where we did our night dive. Some of the highlights included: Decorator Crab, octopus, scorpionfish, flatworms and a few moray eels, like the Green. After our groups returned and had shower we gathered for dinner. Urik, afterwards, recaptured the day and reinforced the itinerary with the guests along with a presentation on history, culture and biodiversity of the Raja Ampat province. Last, glad with the first water activities of the trip, it was time for rest. The boat sleeps on the area tonight.
Friday February 10th
Early in the morning we were on our way to Daram, southeast from Wagmab. On the way we stopped in Batu Hitam (Black Rock), where we did the first dive of the day. With visibility around 20 meters / 66 feet and mild currents, the divers had the opportunity to enjoy the whole dive site, with walls hosting gorgonians and brain coral teeming with glassy sweepers around it and a plateau mostly covered in soft coral species. On the blue, schooling fusiliers, surgeonfishes and Yellowtail Barracuda were seen. Closer to the reef, a few batfishes and congregating snappers brought color to the reef. As if it wasnt enough, some divers had the opportunity to see a Warty Frogfish! Other macro highlights included: Porcelain and Orangutan Crab and the first Denise Pygmy Seahorse. Great dive!
Further east we arrived at our destination for the second dive, Candy Store. Hosting a gorgonians, whip coral, xenia and other species of coral amidst a black coral forest, this site offered some macro photograph opportunities: Orangutan and Porcelain Crab, Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Tasseled and Papuan Scorpionfish, in between others. Close to the reef swimming in the gentle current present were schooling fusiliers, batfish, rabbitfish and a few Spanish Mackerels hunting.
The third dive of the day was in Andiamo and its densely covered coral garden, containing an immense variety of hard and soft coral species that hosts a lot of fish colorful fish life, like anthias, damselfishes and wrasses. Around an extending ridge teeming with action, the divers got to see: Yellowtail and Chevron Barracuda, Malabar and Brown-Marbled Grouper, congregating Spanish Flag Snapper, Napoleon Wrasse and also a few Bumphead Parrotfishes. On top of that, a few divers got to see a Pink Anemone!
After sunset we had our night dive, done this time in the shallow plateau of the same site as before, Andiamo. There were plenty of highlights, like a free-swimming octopus, Decorator Crab and the first Epaulette Shark, also known as the walking shark. After it the guests had dinner and it was followed by a presentation on the same Epaulette Shark seen, done by our divemaster Jemy. Finally, time was given for rest and most of the guests retired to their staterooms while others stayed around talking and listening to some music.
Saturday February 11th
Around 4 a.m. we started our way towards the island of Boo, where our first dive was done in Boo Window. There were some currents present bringing life to this extending ridge covered in soft coral and some of the highlights mentioned by our guests were: Blacktip Reef Shark, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha.
The dive that followed was in Karang Bayangan, also known as Shadow Reef, a sea mount east of the island of Warakaraket. The coral growth on the top of the mount is abundant and the fish life is vibrant. Whitetip, Blacktip and Grey Reef Shark were seen, together with Giant, Orange-spotted and Big-Eye Jacks, Yellowtail Barracudas and Red Snappers. On top of that, a Hawksbill Turtle and also a Reef Stonefish were seen. A great dive!
Third dive of the day was done slightly north, in Yillet Kecil. With an extensive soft coral garden hosting plenty of xenia specimens, some macro life was found: nudibranchs, like the Chromodoris and Flabellina, flatworms, Orangutan and Porcelain Crab and also the Raja Ampat Denise Pygmy Seahorse! As the divers drifted along with the current schooling batfish, Big-Eye Jack and fusiliers also were seen cruising along the reef.
Our night dive was done in the neighbor Romeo, famous for its population of Epaulette Sharks. As expected, all the groups got to spend some time and take pictures from this shark, while some divers got to see more than one! Baby Octopus, Pygmy Squid, Squid, Decorator Crab and moray eels, like the Giant, were also pointed out. Time came for us to have dinner and after it one of our divemasters, Hery, shared a presentation on Pygmy Seahorses! Tomorrow we head to Wayilbatan, but the vessel will sleep in the area.
Sunday February 12th
Before sunrise we were already in the region of Wayilbatan getting ready to do our first dive in Gorgonian Passage, also known as Neptunes Fan Sea. This site is a channel where the soft coral and gorgonian growth is dense and plentiful and the divers got to experience see while drifting along a wall covered on both. As the reef passed by, a Hawksbill Turtle, different species of Groupers and some macro life, like the Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Sea Horse, were seen. As it was for all day, the visibility was around 25+ meters/82+ feet. Currents were present, but manageable, bringing some fish action into play.
The following dive was done in Barracuda Rock, a site that usually hosts large schools of fish. This time was not different, as fusiliers, Big-Eye Jacks, batfish, surgeonfish and rabbitfish were seen in big numbers. Besides that, Whitetip Reef Shark, Napoleon Wrasse and a few Chevron Barracudas appeared. There was some space for smaller creatures too: Bubble coral Shrimp, Denise Pygmy Seahorse and pipefishes, for example.
After lunch came the third dive, done in Wedding Cake and its extensive soft coral garden distributed along a plateau that extends along a ridge. According to the groups this was a specially beautiful dive! Schooling fusiliers were seen among smaller fishes, like anthias and damselfishes. Besides that, along the reef Crocodile Flathead, Papuan Scorpionfish, Yellowmargin Moray Eel, Star Puffer and a few nudibranchs were pointed out by the divemasters.
Our night dive was done again in Wedding Cake, but this time the divers were mostly looking for critters, which they found plenty. Bobtail Squid, Crinoid Shrimp, octopus, crabs, like the Decorator Crab, translucent shrimps and others were spotted. After we gathered in the salon for dinner which was followed by a slideshow Urik shared with some of his underwater photography work done while working as cruise director of the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Next came time for rest and prepare for a day of diving in the region of Fiabacet tomorrow. The boat sleeps in Wayilbatan tonight.
Monday February 13th
Around 6:30am we arrived in the region named Fiabacet, containing dive sites famous for their extensive soft coral growth. The first dive was done in Nudi Rock and with some current present it was an opportunity to see some pelagic life in action: Grey Reef, Whitetip and Blacktip Sharks were seen actively patrolling the reef, while schooling Chevron, Yellowtail and Pick-handle Barracuda and also a few Spanish Mackerel were in the hunt of fusiliers and surgeonfishes. Towards the end of the dive, in the sheltered area, the divers got to spend some time in a coral garden hosting a lot of life: scorpionfishes, crustaceans, pygmy seahorses, moray eels and others, not to the mention the Hawksbill Turtle that didnt seem to be bothered at all by the bubbles and stayed with the groups for a while.
Our second dive was done in Tank Rock, a tiny islet that hosts a vast underwater ridge and two pinnacles. The currents by this time had diminished but the divers still got to see a few schooling fishes: fusiliers, rabbitfish, Red Snappers and a few species of groupers, like the Brown-Marbled and Lyretail. Along the reef, some macro life was spotted, like the Orangutan Crab, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and a few nudibranchs.
Third dive of the day was done in Whale Rock and it was a good opportunity to spot some macro subjects: nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha, flatworms, like the Thysonozon, Bubble and Egg Shell Shrimp, Denise Pygmy Seahorse and other critters, like the Tasseled Scorpionfish and Spotfin Lionfish. Passing by on the blue were Bumphead Parrotfishes, Spanish Mackerel and schooling fusiliers. The visibility on this dive, as it was for the previous two, was in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet.
The night dive was done in the same site, Whale Rock, since it has an extensive plateau sheltered from possible currents, providing an easy spot to look for nocturnal animals. Some of the highlights of this dive were: Crocodile Flathead, Baby Octopus, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, and Marbled Shrimp. With the groups back on the vessel was time for us to have dinner. After it Urik did a presentation on the Derawan Islands, in Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan), Raja Ampat Aggressor new destination coming July 2017!
Having finished, most of the guests retired to their staterooms to rest and prepare for tomorrow, our last day diving in the area of Misool, South Raja Ampat. The boat sleeps around Yillet.
Tuesday February 14th
Not far from Yillet is the seamount known as Antichovy, or Grouper Net. This is where we made our first dive of the day and it was filled with findings: Mantis Shrimp, Ringed Pipefish, Giant Moray Eel, Banded Sea Snake, Popcorn Shrimp and also a white Painted Frogfish! This all distributed among the abundant hard coral and a few bommies hosting Glassy Sweepers.
The following dive was done around the region of Balbulol, in Plateau. A good opportunity to spot macro subjects, the divemasters pointed out a few nudibranchs, including the Flabellina and Nembrotha, Zanzibar Whip Coral and Bubble Coral Shrimp, flatworms, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, in between others. Towards the end of the dive a school of Bumphead Parrotfish was seen cruising along the reef.
Our last dive of the day was done in the soft coral garden of Love Potion No. 9, possibly one of the most dense and intact of the whole archipelago of Raja Ampat. Different species of soft and hard coral cover the substrate almost to the point of not being able to see anything that is not alive! Hiding among the structures were: scorpionfishes, Porcelain Crab, Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Bubble Coral Shrimp and others. Passing by on the blue were schooling fusiliers and surgeonfishes.
This day we had only three dives because of our crossing towards the central region of Raja Ampat, known as the Dampier Strait. Dinner happened earlier and after it a presentation on Sea Turtles was given. Time was then given to the guests to rest and most retired to their rooms while others enjoyed the extra time to chat and listen to some music in the upper deck.
Wednesday February 15th
As the sun rose in the sky we were arriving in the region of Fam and Peneimu, in Central Raja Ampat. Our first dive of the day happened in Melissas Garden, one of the archipelagos most extensive hard coral garden, formed of species such as elkhorn, staghorn, elephant ear, and others. Some of the marine life highlights of this dive were: Hawksbill Turtle, Blacktip Reef Shark, Banded Sea Snake, Ringed Pipefish and Denise Pygmy Seahorse.
The following dive happened towards the west, close to the island of Keruo, in Keruo Channel. The groups drifted along a wall covered in hard coral and sea fans, observing schooling fusiliers, Red Snappers, batfishes passing by. Besides that, another highlights were: Blacktip and Grey Reef Shark, Hawksbill Turtle and the Raja Ampat Denise Pygmy Seahorse. Finally, towards the end of the dive, with the sun high on the sky providing light, the groups spend a good amount of time of a plentiful coral garden in shallow water. The divers came back amazed!
Next dive on the schedule was closer to the island of Peneimu, in Galaxy, a site more destined for the macro lovers. Bargibanti, Denise, Raja Ampat Denise and Pontohi Pygmy Seahorses were spotted! Besides those, Mushroom Coral and Ringed Pipefish, Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp, Egg Shell Shrimp and nudibranchs were pointed out by Hery and Jemy, our divemasters. This was not all, since a few Blacktip Reef Sharks and a Broadclub Cuttlefish were also seen. Finally, in the shallow part of the dive a huge giant clam was spotted!
Night dive happened along a beach in the island of Keruo, in a site named Keruo (Night). It was a great dive, filled with highlights like: juvenile Reef Octopus, juvenile Broadclub Cuttlefish and also juvenile Blue-ringed Octopus! Besides that, a toadfish was also seen. As the guests came back onboard it was time to gather for dinner. After it Urik shared a presentation on some traces of primitive papuan cultures, including cannibalism. Then came time to rest and most of the guests went to sleep while others continued talking in the upper deck. By this time we were on our way to the region around Arborek, where the boat will sleep.
Thursday February 16th
We woke up around Arborek where is located our first dive site of the day, Manta Sandy. Known for being a Reef Manta Ray cleaning station, our hope was to spot them. Along the dive, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, were pointed out by the divemasters, together with a Mushroom Coral Pipefish and a Pegasus Sea Moth. On top of that, towards the end of the dive, three Mantas came by cruising close to the groups, two of them completely black. Quite a sight!
The second dive was done in the Sawandarek village jetty. It was an opportunity to see schooling Ribbon-tail, Diagonal Banded and Oriental Sweetlips and a lot more! Green Turtles, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Shark, Wobbegong Shark, Giant Sweetlips, schooling Yellowtail Barracuda and Humphead Snappers and few critters, like scorpionfish. On top of that, a juvenile Barramundi Grouper was also seen. A great dive!
Our dive number three of the day happened close by, in Cape Mansuar, the island weve been diving around. Schooling Yellowtail Barracuda, Hawksbill Turtle, Blacktip Reef Shark and Giant Sweetlips were seen. There were space for macro photography too: Spider Crab, nudibranchs, like the Chromodoris, flatworms, Ringed Pipefish, in between others, were spotted.
Night dive happened also in the island of Mansuar, in the Yenbubba village jetty. It was a great opportunity to spot critters, like Crocodile Flathead, juvenile Broadclub Cuttlefish, Schultz Pipefish, Decorator and a spawning Sponge Crab, Skeleton Shrimp and others. With the guests back on board we had dinner and after it a presentation about sharks were given, besides an explanation on our schedule for tomorrow, our last day of diving. Time was rest came and most retired to their staterooms. The boat sleeps around Yenbubba for the day.
Friday February 17th
Early in the morning we were already around the neighbor island of Kri, where we did our first dive in Cape Kri. It was a quite dynamic dive, filled with pelagic life in the form of: Dogtooth Tuna, Blacktip Reef Shark, Midnight and Red Snapper, Giant Trevally, schooling Yellowtail Barracuda and Big-Eye Jacks and also a few batfish and Bumphead Parrotfish. For the ones who decided to shoot some smaller creatures, Brown-banded Pipefish, Egg Shell Shrimp were some of the highlights!
The following dive happened on the seamount named Blue Magic and the divers classified it as fantastic. Schooling Yellowtail Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks, Oceanic Triggerfishes, surgeonfishes, cardinalfishes were around while Grey Reef Sharks, Spanish Mackerels and a few Bonito Tunas passed by. On top of that, as a remarkable experience, Oceanic and Reef Manta Rays were on the top of the mount hovering over the divers while getting cleaned by smaller fishes, a beautiful dive to end this trip!
Back from the dive the guests left their dive equipment under the care of our crew, who washed it and left it conveniently positioned to dry. We gathered for lunch and afterwards Urik showed the video he prepared during the last ten days with some of the marine life weve seen during the cruise and also a few moments from the divers on the boat and underwater. Time was then given for everyone to rest before we gathered in the sun deck for our farewell party. This was an opportunity for the guests and crew to spend some time together and also for us to distribute our Raja Ampat Aggressor Iron Diver awards.
Our winners were: Mark, Sonya, Adriana and Juli. On top of that, Nancy, one of our divers, reach the 300th dive milestone. Congratulations!
Dinner happened earlier than usual and after a slideshow was shown with some of the underwater pictures taken by our divers during the journey! Was already a moment to share some memories on this great trip. Time came for everyone to rest and prepare to leave the vessel on the following morning. By this time we were already in the port of Sorong.
Saturday February 18th
Early in the morning the crew gathered in the deck to say farewell to our guests. We hope to see them again sometime in the future and wish a safe trip back home. Thank you! Terima Kasih!