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Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *31 March 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
Chef Assistant: Jemly
Dive master: Hery
Dive master: Denny
Dive master: Jemy
Tender Driver: Carly
Tender Driver: Ody
Sa: Two Trees Island, Farondi Seamount, Batu Kecil, Wagmab
Su: 4 Kings, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock
Mo: Boo West, Nudi Rock, Yillet Kecil, Romeo
Tu: Gus Ridge, Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef)
We: Too Many Fish, Too Many Fish, Too Many Fish
Th: Karang Hatta, Batu Goyang, Hole In The Wall, Pulau Pisang
Fr: Pohon Miring, Batu Kapal, Pulau Pisang
Sa: Nusa Laut, Nusa Laut, Nusa Laut, Molana
Su: Laha 1, Baru Kampung
GUESTS: Deanna, Lolo, Jeff, Keith, Becky, Kevin, Stephen, Chuck, Anthony, Bryan, Hagen, Carrie, Jody, Ken, Kurt
Friday March 31st
On the time scheduled our guests arrived and were greeted by our crew. As they walk into the dive deck the introduction to the staterooms started. Acquainted to their places, we gathered in the salon to have lunch together. After the meal our Urik, our Cruise Director, did a presentation about the boat, mentioning its facilities, safety plan and other information on the cruise.
During the afternoon our guests had time to rest and prepare their gear, with the help of our divemasters, Jemy, Hery and Denny, and dinghy drivers, Ody and Carly. We then had time to enjoy the sunset and signature welcome dinner, prepared by our chef Michal and his assistante Jemly, followed.
Finally, a briefing on the dive logistics from our vessel was given by Urik in order to prepare the guests for our first day of diving tomorrow. This was our last activity and after most of our guests retired to their staterooms after a long journey until West Papua. By this time we were already on our way to Misool, South Raja Ampat.
Saturday April 1st
A couple of hours before sunrise we were in the region of Sagof, where we spent the day diving. Our first dive site, done after a light breakfast, was Two Trees Island and, being this the check dive, it was an opportunity for the divers to get back into their diving habits, adjust weights and get comfortable in their equipment. It was not all, though, with mild currents and visibility around 20 meters/66 feet, Bumphead Parrotfishes, Tasseled Scorpionfishes, Crocodile Flathead and nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, were seen.
As the groups came back we met in the salon to have our full breakfast together. After it, with a surface interval in between, we started gearing up for our second dive, in Farondi Seamount. With the currents slightly stronger and visibility in between 10-15 meters/33-50 feet, our divers had the opportunity to see some of the marine life that makes Raja Ampat a special place: Wobbegong Shark, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and even the nocturnal Epaulette Shark! On the top of the seamount, Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers were congregatting and a school of Pick-handle Barracudas could be seen.
After the dive our guests had the first Indonesian meal of the trip during lunch, served as buffet. It was followed by a longer resting time that came before the third dive, in Batu Kecil (Baby Rock), and its beautiful soft coral. Along the reef, Tasseled and Papuan Scorpionfish, Painted Spiny Lobster (including juveniles), nudibranchs, flatworms and another Epaulette Shark were seen. Towards the end of the dive, a Hawksbill Turtle also passed by!
Anni, our waitress, was waiting everyone with a snack as the divers returned from the water and we started moving the vessel towards northwest to a region called Wagmab, where we did our night dive. Some of the highlights included: Decorator Crab, Reef Octopus and Pygmy Squid. Back from it, our guests had time for shower before we had dinner together. After dessert Urik did a presentation on the culture, history and biodiversity of the Raja Ampat Archipelago. This was our last activity of the day and time was given for rest afterwards. By this time we were on our way to Wayilbatan.
Sunday April 2nd
A couple of miles from where the boat stayed overnight is our first dive site of this day, 4 Kings. The name comes from the topography of this place, where four pinnacles usually host congregations of fish. With a gentle current and outstanding visibility (25+ meters/82+ feet) our divers got to see schooling fusiliers, surgeonfishes, Big-Eye Jacks and Yellowtail Barracudas. Along the reef, Bargibanty and Denise Pygmy Seahorse and a Leaf Scorpionfish were some of the highlights.
Our second dive was done east from the previous, in Barracuda Rock. One of the special highlights of this dive was the presence of a green Giant Frogfish which our groups saw! Besides that, schooling fusiliers, batfishes, Blacktip Reef Shark and a Napoleon Wrasse cruising along the reef also made this a sight. On the shallow plateau and with plenty of lights, the guests were amazed by the color and formations of a rich coral garden, containing both soft and hard species.
Third dive of the day was in Wedding Cake. The name comes from the peculiar formation present on this site, which reminds a layer cake famous in wedding ceremonies. Orange, green and purple soft coral, opened because of the present currents, were a highlight themselves. On top of that, Crocodile Flathead, Reef and Papuan Scorpionfishes, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs and flatworms made this a good dive for macro photography. This dive, as was the previous, had visibility around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet.
Our night dive was done in Barracuda Rock, a repetition from the second dive due to the abundance of critters that can be spotted along the shallow plateau around the islet. Some of the highlights were the nocturnal Epaulette Walking Shark, which was seen hunting among the coral, moray eels and a few Marbled Shrimps. With everyone back on board we gathered for dinner and afterwards Jemy, our divemaster, shared a presentation on the Epaulette Shark, also known as the Walking Shark. Afterwards time was given for the guests to rest and a few retired to their staterooms while others stayed around playing card and talking. The boat sleeps in Wayilbatan tonight.
Monday April 3rd
As the sun rose in the sky, we arrived around the island of Boo, where our first dive happened, in Boo West. Drifting along with the current, our divers got to enjoy the plentiful soft coral growth along with gorgonians and whip coral that, together with the early morning sun, brought plenty of colors to the dive. As for the marine life seen, some of the highlights included: Bumphead Parrotfishes, Hawksbill Turtle, Blacktip and Grey Reef Shark, Raja Ampat Denise and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, in between others. A great dive to start the day.
The following dive happened in Fiabacet, on one of Misools most renowned sites, Nudi Rock. The name comes from the shape of the rock and its small vegetation, which resembles a nudibranch. The visibility on this dive was similar to the previous (15-20 meters/50-66 feet) and some of the highlights seen were: Grey Reef Shark, schooling Yellowtail and Chevron Barracudas, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, a pink anemone (!) and more. One of our groups also got to see a Reef Manta Rays passing by!
Next dive was done slightly north, in the region of Yillet, in Yillet Kecil. The main attraction of this dive was to spend time cruising along a shallow plateau covered in soft coral like the finger coral, xenia and others with colors ranging from orange, to red, green and purple. Along the garden, critters like the Reef Scorpionfish, Green Moray, nudibranchs, like the Banana Nudibranch (Notodoris minor) were found. A Green Turtle was also seen sleeping on top of a coral head.
Our night dive was done in the neighbor site named Romeo and it offered the opportunity to see and spend time (again) with the endemic Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark (Hemyscillium freycineti). This was what happened and our groups got to them and some other surprises, like the Crocodile Flathead, Broadclub Cuttlefish, Reef Octopus and even a sleeping Green Turtle. Back on board the guests had showered and we gathered for dinner. After dessert our divemaster Hery did a presentation on Pygmy Seahorses, talking about species present Indonesia. Afterwards we called it a night and a few guests stayed around while most retired to their staterooms for rest. The boat sleeps around Yillet tonight.
Tuesday April 4th
Before sunrise we were already in the region around Warakaraket, where we did our two dives of the day trying to see Manta Rays. The first site was Gus Ridge, a seamount known to be a cleaning station for the magestic animals. With some current and visibility around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, our divers first got to see schooling rabbitfishes, surgeonfishes, batfishes, fusiliers, a Napoleon Wrasse and a patrolling Blacktip Reef Shark before the pleasant surprise came. Two Oceanic Manta Rays appeared in one of the cleaning station and all the groups got to spend some time with them.
The following dive happened in Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef, in Bahasa Indonesia), a.k.a. Magic Mountain, one of the most popular dive site in the whole archipelago. This seamount, hosting huge concentrations of fish, didnt disappoint our divers. Schooling Red and Midnight Snappers, Big-Eye Jacks, Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers, Giant, Blue-fin and Orange-spotted Trevallys, Grey Reef Sharks and more were seen during the dive. But the highlight, one more time, was the possibility to spend the whole dive with three Oceanic Manta Rays that were circling around the seamount getting cleaned by wrasses, bannerfishes and others. A fantastic dive!
This was our last dive of the day and also the last in Raja Ampat, as we started the crossing towards Koon Island, towards the Banda Sea. Late in the afternoon, enjoying the opportunity, our guests had a Mardy Gras party and part of the crew joined them as we danced and had a fun time together.
After sunset we had dinner together and after it our divers Bryan (Open Water and Nitrox), Kurt (Nitrox) and Deanna (Nitrox) were congratulated for completing their courses aboard our vessel. Finally Urik shared a slideshow with some of his underwater photography work while working on the boat. This was our last activity of the day and after it most of the guests stayed around chatting.
Wednesday April 5th
As the day started, we arrived around the island of Koon, close to the bigger island of Seram. This is where we spent our day of diving, in a large site named Too Many Fish. All the dives presented outstanding visibility (30+ meters/100+ feet). The first one happened with a mild current as we started along a steep wall and drifted towards a sandy slope where the dive ended. Along the wall Blue-fin Trevally, Redtooth Triggerfish, Yellowmargin and Giant Moray Eel, Napoleon Wrasse and schooling fusiliers were seen. As we got closer to the sandy area, a school of Big-Eye Jacks greeted the divers. A relaxing dive to start the day.
The following dive was done mostly in the sandy area with some beautiful coral formations. The currents were stronger and it was a good opportunity to watch some action as the divers used the landscape to their favor. Pick-handle Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks, Snugnose Pompano, Red Snappers, batfishes, fusiliers and others were seen chasing and being chased actively.
Our third dive was done from the coral slope towards the sandy area but this time our divemasters and divers spent most of their time looking for critters. To their surprise, plenty was seen: stonefish, pipefish, nudibranchs, Leaf Scorpionfish, Ribbon Eel, Reef Scorpionfish and more. In the beginning of the dive, a Green Turtle also posed for a few pictures! This was our last dive in the area as we started our crossing towards south, to the Banda Islands.
Thursday April 6th
On time we arrived close to the Banda Islands. The first one was Pulau Hatta, where our first dive, in Karang Hatta, happened. With, again, visibility of more than 30 meters/100 feet, schooling fusiliers, rabbitfishes, surgeonfishes and also Bumphead Parrotfishes were some of the sights. Along the reef, a Reef Octopus, Giant Moray Eel and two small Whitetip Reef Sharks were other highlights.
The following dive was also done around Hatta, in Batu Goyang (Shake Rock, in Bahasa Indonesia). Along the steep wall, gorgonians and soft coral species brought color to the dive, as the visibility stayed great and the currents were mild. Green Turtle, nudibranchs, like the Phillydia, Crinoid and Mantis Shrimp, Porcupinefish, Red-spotted Guard Crab and others were some of the highlights pointed out by the divemasters.
Our third dive happened in Hole In The Wall, a site that carries this name because of the immense swim-through that descend from a shallow plateau covered in coral into a steep wall. Along the wall, different species of blennies, Tasseled Scorpionfish, two Giant Morays, Coral Guard Crab, Green Turtle and others were some of the sights. The visibility was around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet and the currents made this a relaxing drift dive.
Slightly towards the northwest happened our night, in Pulau Pisang (Banana Island, in Bahasa Indonesia). With a densely covered coral garden, especially a shallow plateau, our divers had plenty to look for during this dive. Some of the findings included: Marbled Shrimp, Decorator Crab, juvenile Broadclub Cuttlefish, Reef Octopus and an immense Box Crab.
Back from the dive we gathered in the salon for dinner. After the dessert, a presentation on the Derawan Archipelago, located in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Raja Ampat Aggressors new destination for the summer starting July this year, was done! This was our last activity for the day and time was given for rest, which most of our guests did. The boat sleeps around Pulau Pisang tonight.
Friday April 7th
We started our second (and last) day of diving in the Banda Islands on a dive site named Pohon Miring, remarkable for a swim-through that cuts into the wall on the corner of this island and its filled with gorgonians and sponges, quite a sight. Some of the marine life seen along the wall included juvenile Midnight Snapper, Giant Moray Eel, Brown-Marbled Grouper while along the rocky plateau Tasseled Scorpionfish and even two Day Octopi caught in the middle of some sort of altercation!
Our second dive happened in Batu Kapal (Boat Rock), named after its shape, which reminds a boat. With some currents present and visibility of 30+ meters/100+feet (as it was for the whole day), our divers got to see some action during this dive. Schooling Big-Eye Jacks, Red-Tooth Triggerfishes, butterflyfishes, fusiliers, snappers and a couple of Whitetip Reef Sharks were seen. Along the reef, four species of Moray Eels have been pointed out by our divemasters: Giant, Snowflake, Yellowmargin and Honeycomb.
The following dive was a drift done along the wall of Pulau Pisang and its incredible hard coral garden, densely covering a shallow plateau. Some of the sights included the juvenile Midnight Snapper, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Giant Moray Eel, Banded Sea Snake and also a Broadclub Cuttlefish. A nice relaxing dive to finish our visit to Banda since as soon as it was over we gathered for lunch and started the crossing towards Nusa Laut, direction northwest.
Because of the crossing we didnt have a night dive and dinner happened earlier. After it Urik shared a presentation on sharks, mentioning their characteristics, migration, reproduction patterns and more. This was also an opportunity to congratulate Becky (450) and Stephen (150) on reaching new milestones, cheers! Time was then given for rest even though a few guests stayed in the salon playing cards.
Saturday April 8th
We scheduled for this day was special, since, in order to turn four dives into a possibility we had an early morning dive, jumping in the water as the sun rose. The first dive was done in the outter reef of Nusa Laut, where our groups were mostly looking for pelagic life, which happened. Dogtooth Tuna, schooling Pick-handle Barracudas, Big-Eye Jacks and fusiliers and a Blacktip Reef Shark were some of the highlights. On top of that, a few of our divers were lucky enough to see two Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks!
Our second dive, done earlier, was along the wall and shallow plateau of the reef. All dives this day had incredible visibility (again!) of around 35+ meters/115+ feet and gentle currents. Our divers went on a nice drift along the wall and had the opportunity to see Lyretails, a few species of fusiliers, surgeonfishes, rabbitfishes, Black Snappers and a few Chevron Barracudas. As some groups finished the dive in a sheltered area covered in hard coral, critters were also found, like the Guard Crab and nudibranchs.
The third dive done after a snack but before lunch and was a shallow one to enjoy the plentiful of the hard coral garden around this island. Some of the creatures spotted by our divemasters included: Orangutang Crab, juvenile Bicolor Parrotfish, Tasseled Scorpionfish and a few different species of blennies.
As we had lunch, we started moving closer to Ambon, towards the island of Molana. Along a wall was where we done our night dive and some of the highlights included: Decorator Crabs, Blue-spotted Ribbontail Stingray, Fimbriated and Snowflake Moray Eel, Slippery Lobster and a Leaf Scorpionfish. A great dive! After everyone was back and had shower, dinner was served and once dessert was finished a presentation about sea turtles was shared with the guests. Before it, though, we congratulated Deanna (50), Hagen (50), Chuck (150) and Anthony (250) for reaching milestones on board of the vessel! By this time we were already on our way to Ambon, where well do some muck diving tomorrow!
Sunday April 9th
We arrived in Ambon during the night and in the morning started preparing for the first of our last two dives. The first dive site was Laha 1 and the second was Baru Kampung, even though they are both close and with similar topography, a sandy and rocky slope. Being Ambon one of the premier muck diving destinations in Indonesia (and the world), some great surprises were pointed out by our divemasters.
To name a few: Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Rhinopia (Lacey) Scorpionfish, Leaf Scorpionfish, Thorny Seahorse, Estuarine Stonefish, Ribbon Eel and also a Wunderpus! More, like lionfishes, scorpionfishes, moray eels also were seen. A great couple of dives to finish this fun trip!
Back on board our crew took the responsibility of rinsing the guests gear while they had lunch. After the meal Urik showed the video he prepared during the last ten days with some underwater footage made during the trip, which served as a moment to already start reminding the journey. Time was then given for rest and at the scheduled time we had our farewell party in the sun deck.
It was an opportunity for the crew to play some music to our guests and for all to spend some time together. This was also a moment to distribute our Raja Ampat Aggressor Iron Diver awards for those who completed all the available dives during the cruise. Congraluations to Lolo, Jeff, Kevin and Ken!
Sunset time came and after it we gathered in the salon for a signature dinner offered by the chef and his assistant. After dessert a slideshow was done with pictures taken by our divers during the trip. Finally, Urik explained the following morning and the transfers and closed the night. Most of the guests stayed around chatting and having fun while others retired to their staterooms.
Monday April 10th
Early in the morning our crew gathered in the dive deck to bid their farewells to this fun group of guests. We all wish them a safe journey back home and hope to see them again on board the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Have a lovely trip guys!