Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *9 March 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdi
Operations Manager: Antonio
Cruise Director: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
Chef Assistant: Jemly
Dive master: Hery
Dive master: Denny
Dive master: Jemy
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Fr: Two Trees Island, Farondi Seamount, Batu Kecil, Wagmab
Sa: Batu Hitam, Andiamo, Candy Store, Candy Store
Su: Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef), Boo Window, Yillet Kecil, Romeo
Mo: Tank Rock, Nudi Rock, Whale Rock, Whale Rock
Tu: 4 Kings, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock
We: Antichovy (Grouper Net), Plateau, Love Potion No. 9
Th: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo Night
Fr: Mayhem I, Manta Sandy, Sawandarek Jetty, Yenbubba Jetty
Sa: Cape Kri, Blue Magic
GUESTS: Alex, Ben, Dan, Cheryl, Alex, Ana, Radu, Arjud, George, Paula, Kirill, Lusy, Sergey, Konstantin, Michael, Val
Thursday March 9th
On time our guests were picked up and arrived onboard, where they were greeted by the crew. After all were shown their respective staterooms, we gathered on the salon for lunch. The meal was followed by a briefing, introducing the facilities of the boat and safety plan.
The guests then had time to rest or start preparing their dive gear, the last done with the help of our divemasters, Jemy, Hery and Denny. Sunset came and after it we had a signature welcome dinner, offered by our chef, Michael and his assistant, Jemly. After dessert a briefing was done on the logistics of diving from our vessel, so the divers could know what to expect for the following days.
This was our last activity and, recognizing the long journey our guests been through, time was given for rest. Most retired to their staterooms. By this time we were on our way to Misool, South Raja Ampat, our first destination.
Friday March 10th
Before sunrise we were already in the region around Sagof, where we spent our diving day. The first, which happened after a light breakfast, was in Two Tree Island and, being a check a dive, it was an opportunity for the guests to check their buoyancy and camera equipment. Nevertheless, some of the marine life seen was: Bumphead Parrotfish, Hawksbill Turtle and Crocodile Flathead.
Back on board our guests had a full breakfast and some time to rest before the second dive, in Parondi Seamount. As it was the case for the three dives during the day, the visibility was slightly limited due to the quantity of nutrients and sediment in the water (10-15m/33-50 feet). This, nevertheless, attracts schooling fishes to the reefs and this dive was an opportunity to spot some of them: Red and Midnight Snapper, Pick-handle Barracuda, rabbitfishes and fusiliers. This was not all, as around a colony of leather coral congregating Blue-lined and Five-lined Snapper were seen, close to the first Wobbegong Shark of the trip.
Next, we had our first Indonesian meal during the lunch, served in a buffet. Afterwards the divers had time to rest before the afternoon dive, in Batu Kecil (Baby Rock in Bahasa Indonesia). With an extensive soft coral garden that spread a shallow plateau and a close wall, especially in the orange and light green colors, there were plenty of opportunities to spot macro life. Nudibranchs, like the Blue Dragon, flatworms and pipefishes, like the Brown-banded, were some of the creatures pointed out by our divemasters.
As the groups were brought back by Carly and Ody, our dinghy drivers, Betty and Novita, housekeepers, were waiting with a snack. Sunset was a time for resting as we moved the vessel northwest, towards the region of Wagmab, where we did the night dive. It was an special dive, since it was the first opportunity to spot the endemic Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark and also the seldom seen Satomi Pygmy Seahorse! As the guests had shower, we gathered in the salon to have dinner, served as a menu. After it a presentation on the history, culture and biodiversity of Raja Ampat was given. This was our last activity and time was given for all to rest. The boat sleeps in the area tonight.
Saturday March 11th
Early in the morning we anchored close to the islet known as Batu Hitam (Black Rock in Bahasa Indonesia), where we did our first dive. With greater visibility (15-20 meters/50-66 feet) and mild currents, it was a good opportunity to explore this reef that hosts a few black coral aggregations, where Glassy Sweepers are plentiful and creatures like the Ringed Pipefish and Papuan Scorpionfish can be spotted. Besides that, our divers got to see schooling Chevron and Pick-handle Barracudas, Blue-Lined and Spanish Flag Snappers and batfishes.
The following dive was already in the region of Daram, further southeast, in Andiamo. With conditions similar to the previous dives, the groups had the opportunity to contemplate a vast plateau densely covered in different species of soft and hard coral and teeming with life. Bumphead Parrotfishes, Malabar Groupers, schooling fusiliers were seen cruising along the reef. As for macro subjects, Orangutan Crab and Peacock-tail Anemone Shrimp were some of the highlights.
The third dive of the day was in the neighbor site named Candy Store. The visibility this time was outstanding (20+ meters/66+ feet) and the currents were slightly stronger even though our divemasters managed the dive to offer shelter to the groups. Pelagic life got the attention of the divers, as Giant, Blue and Orange-spotted Trevally, Whitetip Reef and Mobula Rays were seen! On the reef, creatures like the Orangutan and Porcelain Crab and colorful blennies were photographed by the guests.
Sunset came and we stayed in the sheltered area of Candy Store for the night dive, when groups spend most of their times searching for critters. Some findings included the Epaulette Shark and the seldom seen Hairy Shrimp! Back on board we gathered for dinner and after it our crew joined the salon to wish a Happy Birthday to Kirill, who celebrated his 47th anniversary with us. Jasman, our deck hand, played some music with his guitar afterwards!
Sunday March 12th
The sun was not yet in the sky and we arrived around the seamount named Karang Bayang (Shadow Reef, in Bahasa Indonesia). Also known as Magic Mountain, this site often hosts high quantity of pelagic life and this dive, done with a mild current and visibility around 20 meters/66 feet, was not different. Grey Reef, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Shark were seen, as were schooling Big-Eye, Orange-spotted, Blue and Giant Trevallys and fusiliers. The occasional Napoleon Wrasse also helped making this a great dive to start the day!
Slightly northwest from the seamount we did the second dive, in Boo Window, where a hole in the islet forms a window suitable for wide-angle photography. The visibility around 10-15 meters/33-45 feet didnt keep the divers to see a Grey Reef Shark, Napoleon Wrasse and schooling fusiliers and rabbitfishes playing in the current. Along the reef, nudibranchs, like the Banana Nudibranch, and Papuan Scorpionfish were some of the highlights found among a dense soft coral garden.
Less than a mile north, our following dive was done in Yillet Kecil. The slack tide allowed the groups to gaze through schooling fusiliers and Chevron Barracuda swimming amongst Barramundi Groupers, batfishes and others. The special highlight of this dive, though, was a Reef Manta Ray spotted circling around a cleaning station, a sight not common for the region during this time of the year!
Our night dive was done in the neighbor islet named Romeo and, as expected it was an opportunity to spot and photograph the Epaulette Shark, also known as Walking Shark because of his movement style. After it we gathered in the salon for dinner and during dinner Hery, our divemaster and special guest, shared a presentation on Pygmy Seahorses. This was our last activity of the day and time was given for the guests to rest. We sleep in the area tonight.
Monday March 13th
On time we arrived at the region of Fiabacet, where we spent our day of diving. The first dive was done in Tank Rock, a ridge that runs east west and tends to host high quantities of fish, both bigger, like the Lyretail and Malabar Grouper, Rainbow Runner and Spanish Mackerel, and smaller, like anthias and damselfishes. On the top of the reef, the soft coral growth is plentiful and allowed the guests to spot a few different nudibranchs and crustaceans, like the Mantis Shrimp.
The following dive was done in Nudi Rock, named after its shape, which resembles a nudibranch. A mild current and visibility around 15 meters/50 feet, helped the divers to spend some time observing Giant Trevallys, Spanish Mackerel and even a Wahoo chasing fusiliers and surgeonfishes. Another couple of findings were a Whitetip Reef Shark laying on the sandy bottom and two Wobbegong Sharks! Towards the end of the dive, all had the opportunity to gaze at the colorful, splendid soft coral garden that stands on a shallow plateau. Even a pink anemone is there!
Third dive of the day was done in Whale Rock, another one of the sites in the region. With a stronger current present, our divers used to opportunity to spend the first half of the dive drifting along a wall that hosts sponges, soft and hard coral and some gorgonians. In one of them, the divemasters spotted a Denise Pygmy Seahorse. In the second half of the dive, spent in a sheltered area, divers got to see a few patrolling Blacktip Reef Sharks.
After sunrise our divers started to get ready for the night dive, also done in Whale Rock, a site that offers shelter from upcoming currents and a extensive shallow plateau where critters live. Some of the highlights included: Crocodile Flathead, Pygmy Squid and the Donal Duck Shrimp! Finally, after shower we gathered for dinner and during dessert Jemy, our divemaster, shared a presentation on the Epaulette Walking Shark. This was our last activity of the day and time was given for the guests to rest, when most of them retired to their staterooms while others stayed around talking. The boat sleeps in the area tonight.
Tuesday March 14th
As the sun was rising, we arrived at our first destination, west of the Wayilbatan region, a dive site named 4 Kings. Formed by four pinnacles that are connected through ridges, it is a place where fish tend to aggregate and action follows. It was the case during our dive, with a mild current and visibility around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, divers got to cruise along the reef watching schooling Big-Eye Jacks, Yellowtail Barracuda, fusiliers and a few Grey Reef Sharks patrolling in between.
The second dive of the day, already in Wayilbatan, was done in Barracuda Rock. Quite a fishy dive, fusiliers, rabbitfishes, batfishes and Big-Eye Jacks were seen in schools. Along the reef, a few creatures made up for macro photography, like the Ringed Pipefish, Papuan Scorpionfish, Squat Anemone and the Popcorn Shrimp! The current and visibility were similar to the previous dive.
Afternoon dive happened in Wedding Cake, which carries this name because of its landscape that resembles the famous layer cake common in weddings. As for the marine life found among a rich soft coral growth populated by sea fans, some of the highlights included: Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, like the Chromodoris and a few pelagic animals, like the Blacktip Reef Shark, Giant Trevally and a loose group of Red Snappers.
Night dive was done in the same site as the second one, Barracuda Rock, which presents an extensive plateau that serves for shelter and allow the divers to look carefully for critters. Some of the highlights found by our divemasters were the Epaulette Shark, Reef Octopus and the rarely seen Blue-Ringed Octopus. A great dive to end the day! After shower everyone was present in the salon for dinner, which was followed by a presentation about Sea Turtles. Time was given for rest and most retired to their staterooms, while others stayed around talking or working on their photographs. The boat sleeps in the area tonight.
Wednesday March 15th
Before dawn we arrived at our first dive site of the day, an underwater seamount named Antichovy, also known as Grouper Net. Surrounded by three pinnacles, this places offer a mix of soft and hard coral that shelter a considerable variety of fish species. Our divers could experience it, since the divemasters pointed out a white Painted Frogfish, Stonefish, two color variations of the Denise Pygmy Seahorse, a Ringed Pipefish, a Wobbegong Shark and more. Besides that, hovering on the top of the seamount were a considerable school of Blue-striped and Yellowtail Fusiliers. A great dive to start the day!
The following dive was done further north, in the region of Balbulol. The name of the dive site was Plateau and it tends to be a good opportunity to look for macro life. Different nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, flatworms, headshield slugs, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse were pointed out. Besides that, camouflaged along the reef, Papuan Scorpionfish and another Wobbegong Shark were seen.
Third dive of the day was done in the neighbor site Love Potion No. 9. With an extensive soft coral garden, so dense that at some stages the divers can barely see the rock substrate, it is quite a sight. As for the findings on this dive, a few to be mentioned are Bubble Coral Shrimp, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, Papuan Scorpionfish, in between others. This was our last dive, since this day we crossed from the South region towards the so-called Central Raja Ampat, also known as the Dampier Strait. Our first destination there will be the region of Penemu and Fam.
Nevertheless, the guests had the opportunity to watch and photograph the sunset as we sailed north and dinner happened a little bit earlier. After dessert a slideshow with some underwater photography work from previous guests on our vessel was shown to the groups. Having finished it most of the guests stayed around talking for a bit and listening to music while a few retired to their staterooms.
Thursday March 16th
On the scheduled time we arrived in the region of Fam and Peneimu, our first destination in Central Raja Ampat. The first site was Melissas Garden and its extensive hard coral garden, formed by acropora species, tables and much more. With a consistent current the divers got to see some action, as fusiliers were chased by Blacktip Reef Sharks, Giant and Orange-spotted Trevallys and even a Dogtooth Tuna! Another pelagic seen was the Whitetip Reef Shark. On top of that, with visibility around 20 meters/66 feet, the groups got to see a couple of Wobbegong Sharks.
The second dive of the day was around the island of Keruo, in Keruo Channel. Currents this time were mild and allowed the divers to drift along this channel, that on one side hosts a wall and on the middle a pinnacle. Around the second, Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers were seen and also a female pregnant Whitetip Reef Shark! As for the wall, one of the highlights was the Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Raja Ampat color variation.
Following dive was done close to Peneimu, in Galaxy, a site known for its abundant macro life. This dive was not different, as Bargibanti, Denise and Raja Ampat Denise Pygmy Seahorses were seen, nudibranchs, like the Flabellina and even a Giant Frogfish were seen. A great dive!
After the time the guests went on a supervised trek to a viewpoint that allows the visitors to contemplate the karst formations of the region. To finish the activity, groups went on a small tour around the islets that ended in a quiet lagoon where we could stop and listen to birds around. Back on board we had some time to rest before gearing up for the night dive, done in Keruo Night. Some of the highlights pointed by the divemasters were: juvenile Broadclub Cuttlefish, Marbled Shrimp, Pygmy Squid, in between others.
Dinnertime came and after dessert our Operations Manager, Antonio, shared a presentation on the Derawan Archipelago in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). This will be the new destination of the Raja Ampat Aggressor, starting July this year! This was our last activity of the day and time was given for the divers to rest. By this time we were on our way to Yangeffo Island.
Friday March 17th
At the usual time we started gearing up for our first dive of the day, in a seamount named Mayhem I. Hosting beautiful bommies, hard and soft coral, this place tends to be a place where a big quantity of fish congregate. Our divers got to see five Wobbegong Sharks, Epaulette Shark, Blacktip Reef Shark, schooling Yellowtail Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks, unicornfishes, surgeonfishes, rabbitfishes, fusiliers and batfishes and even a couple of Dogtooth Tunas passing by. On top of that fantastic dive, there were nudibranchs and some scorpionfishes found!
The following dive was done in a Manta Ray cleaning station known as Manta Sandy. Besides the possibilities of spotting those beautiful animals, the divers nevertheless could spot nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, Leaf Filefish, Mushroom Coral Pipefish and anemone shrimps. The highlight of the dive was, without a doubt, the possibility to spend almost half an hour watching three (or five at times) Reef Manta Rays being cleaned, quite a sight!
Third dive of the day happened in the jetty of the Sawandarek village. The place hosts quite an impressive population of Green Turtles that the divers got to see, besides Whitetip Reef Sharks, Giant Sweetlips, schooling Oriental and Diagonal-banded Sweetlips and some macro life, like the Papuan Scorpionfish and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse.
During a beautiful sunset we had a ceremony of marriage vows renewal for Dan and Cheryl, who also completed their 25th anniversary together. It was a special moment for most of the guests who decided to watch as the crew played some music and the rings were exchanged. Congratulations to both!
After it our divers went on the night dive, in the jetty of the Yenbubba village. Filled with pleasant surprises, two findings that stood out were the Halimeda Ghost Pipefish and the Blue-Ringed Octopus! Back on board we gathered for dinner and afterwards the schedule of our last full day together was shared with the guests. Finally, a presentation about sharks was done, talking about their traits, behavior and threats. This was our last activity together and time was given for rest.
Saturday March 18th
Before sunrise we moved the vessel towards east, close to the island of Kri, where weve done our first dive of the day, in Cape Kri. As expected, it was quite a diverse dive and the highlights were plentiful: Napoleon Wrasse, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks, Wobbegong Sharks, schooling Yellowtail Barracudas and Bumphead Parrotfishes, Giant Sweetlips and the Rock Mover Wrasse. It was quite a pleasant dive since the currents were mild and the visibility was around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet.
The following dive happened slightly north in the seamount named Blue Magic. Known from being a Manta Ray cleaning station, it also tends to host a huge amount of fish when the conditions are right, which was the case. Spanish Mackerels, Yellowtail and Pick-handle Barracudas, Blacktip Reef Shark, Wobbegong Shark, schooling Big-Eye Jacks, fusiliers and cardinalfishes and a couple of Crocodile Flatheads were some of the subjects seen. On top of that, two Oceanic Manta Rays spent time with the groups while hovering around the top of the seamount, quite a sight to finish the trip!
Back on board our guests had time for shower and we gathered for lunch while our crew took care of the equipment rinsing. After lunchtime was given for rest and around sunset, already on our way back to Sorong, we had our farewell party, an opportunity to for the crew to express its gratitude for having our guests on board and play a few songs. It was also an opportunity to distribute awards and recognize milestones.
We had two guests who completed 200 dives during our trip, Arjun and Radu, and another who completed 300, Lusy. Congratulations!
We also had three Aggressor Iron Divers on board: Alex, Ben and Radu. Congratulations on completing the 33 dives available!
After the party we had time to enjoy the sunset and finally got together for dinner. Following dessert the drop-off schedule was given and a video of some of the underwater life seen during the trip was shown to the guests. Coming next was a slideshow with some pictures made by our guests, a time to already start sharing some memories of these ten great days together! This was our last activity of the day and time was given for packing and resting.
Monday March 19th
On the scheduled time our crew gathered in the dive deck to say goodbye to our guests. We all wish them a safe trip back home and would be pleased to see them back in the future aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Thanks!