Raja Ampat Aggressor Captain s log *11 November 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
3rd Engineer: Rahmat
Chef Assistant: Intan
Dive master: Denny
Dive master: Jemy
Dive master: Hery
Tender Driver: Zul
Tender Driver: Ody
Deck hand: Irvan
Su: Sareneus, Sareneus, Bo s Rainbow, Macro Rock
Mo: Lucky Shot, Batu Jeruk, Christmas Rock, White Rock
Tu: Bagan, Bagan, Bagan
We: Tanjung Wap II, Batu Cantik, The Seamount
Th: Too Many Fish, Too Many Fish, Too Many Fish
Fr: Eagle Nest, Gus Ridge, Magic Mountain, Romeo
Sa: Magic Mountain, Boo Windows, Nudi Rock, Kalig Wall
Su: Grouper Net, Two Trees Island, Batu Kecil
Mo: Happy Ending, Algae Patch #2
GUESTS: Dawei, Nico, Kelly, Colleen, Alex, Lisa, Chris, Desi, Liz, Peter, Peter, Suzy, Jean Marc, Laurence, Sophie, Annick
Saturday November 11th
At the scheduled time, the whole crew was ready to greet our guest and help all with their luggage. After being introduced to their staterooms, it was time for our first meal together, an Indonesian buffet served lunch prepared by the chef Jemly and his assistant Intan. Once the meal was over, Urik, the cruise director, proceeded with a briefing mentioning the boat s facilities, safety plan and itinerary.
The afternoon was a time for our guests to rest and enjoy the pleasant ocean breeze reaching Kaimana s port and also finish setting up the dive equipment with the divemasters Jemy, Denny and Hery. Sunset came bright and colorful as it usually is around this region and afterwards was time to gather in the salon for a menu served dinner.
As the dessert was finished Urik proceeded with a detailed briefing on our itinerary and also dive logistics from the vessel, preparing the divers for the following day. This was also an opportunity for the crew to formally introduce themselves to our guests. Respecting the fact that all had a long journey before arriving onboard, we had a shorter night and after the introduction all went to their staterooms for rest. Tomorrow we dive in Northern part of Aiduma, Triton Bay.
Sunday November 12th
Before dawn we were already in the Iris Strait, around the island of Aiduma, where we would spend the day. The first dive, as usual, was a check dive, an opportunity for our divers to check their weights and fine tune buoyancy in order to be comfortable throughout the trip. The dive site chosen was Sareneus, a sandy slope where soft coral patches are abundant and found in a wide range of colors, especially in shallow waters. Even though it was the check dive, it doesn t mean that little gems were not found, as Giant Moray, Tasseled Scorpionfish, juvenile Harlequin Sweetlips and at least two kinds of Bargibanti Pymgy Seahorses were pointed out!
Once Ody and Zul, the tender drivers, returned with the last group from the water, it was time for the full breakfast, ordered earlier by each guest. After the meal, some resting time was given for our divers before the bell rang for the second dive. Due to the conditions, we visited again the protected site of Sareneus and, with visibility around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet, characteristic of this place and no current, and it was another opportunity for the divemasters to point macro subjects to our divers and photographers. Bargibanti Pymgy Seahorse, Skeleton Shrimp, Candy Crab and nudibranchs, like the Leopard, were some of the highlights, besides the abundant, vibrantly colorful soft coral itself, possibly the main highlight of the whole Triton Bay.
With our divers back on board, we gathered for lunch, which was followed by a longer resting period, a siesta , the most of our guests decided to spend upstairs on the sun deck, enjoying the appearance of the sun on what had been a cloudy, rainy day so far. Slightly south was the next dive site, Bo s Rainbow, a gentle sandy slope with shallow water soft coral garden and a dense black coral forest. Nudibranchs, like the Flabellina, flatworms, Mushroom Coral Pipefish, Candy Crab and the Cassiopeia Jellyfish were some of the highlights of this that turned out to be a great day for macro lovers. Another highlight is a swim through present in the middle of the rock that some of our divers ventured in.
As the clouds gathered again among the lush green vegetation, our groups returned from their dives and Nocita and Maria, the stewardesses, were waiting with a snack. Before dusk, some of our guests enjoyed the breeze on the sun deck while a few used to opportunity to kayak to shore. As the night settled in we started the preparations for the night dive, in Macro Rock. As it is usually the case, the divemasters put their effort into spotting critters and macro subjects and some of the findings included: cowries, Decorator Crab and a Bobtail Squid.
When all our guests were aboard the vessel and had their warm showers, the bell rang for dinner. The meal, an Indonesian style one, was followed by Hery s presentation on Pygmy Seahorses, mentioning the species so far described in the world as well as the most commonly seen in Indonesia and some of their behavioral traces. This was the last activity of the day and most guests opted to rest afterwards. Tomorrow we dive in the southern part of Aiduma, still in the Iris Strait.
Monday November 13th
The first rays of sun were not yet in the sky and we already approached the island of Dramai, south from the region we dove yesterday. Around one of the rocks surroundings it, we did the first dive of the day, in Lucky Shot. With a mild current and visibility around 15 meters/50 feet, the action and amount of fish swimming caused quite an impression among our divers. Schooling drummers, fusiliers, snappers, Bumphead Parrotfish and the eventual pelagic like Spanish Mackerel, Napoleon Wrasse and a considerably large Marbled Grouper marked the first half of the dive. What followed, on the sheltered area of the reef, was a gentle swim among pinnacles were soft corals of all colors thrive and host plenty of critters like the Zanzibar Shrimp, Candy Crab, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and flatworms. Towards the end, as if it wasn t enough, our groups had the opportunity to pass along a swim-through patrolled by Giant Trevallys.
Slightly further north, closer to Aiduma, is where the following morning dive happened. The dive site chosen was Batu Jeruk (Orange Rock, in Indonesian) and it got its name due to the incredibly abundant amount of small orange soft coral formations, so vast that it extend beyond the visibility, which was around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet. The currents this time were stronger and our divers drifted along the coral garden in the first half, passing by Red Snappers, Giant Trevallys, Bumphead Parrotfish, Napoleon Wrasse and schooling Blue-lined Snappers. The following part was in a protected spot, where the currents were not felt anymore and the divemasters had the opportunity to spot critters and macro subjects like nudibranchs, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Longnose Hawkfish and a few anemone shrimps.
After the longest rest of the day the bell rang for the third dive, in the neighbor site named Christmas Rock (the nomination comes from the fact that the first ones to dive this site did it during Christmas day). With similar visibility as the previous dive and gentle conditions, it was an opportunity for our divers to contemplate the dense and large black coral forest found on this site, populated by glassy sweepers and other critters, like the Red Lionfish, Brown-banded Pipefish, blennies and dragonets, in between others. There was also the possibility for all to see two Wobbegong Sharks, known only from the region of Papua and Australia, including a juvenile specimen.
Following the heavy rain the fell during the afternoon, the sky was mostly clear for a vibrant sunset that our guests took their time to contemplate and photograph. With dusk came the time for night dive, which happened in White Rock, as we already made our way back towards the northern part of Aiduma. The main highlight of this dive was the endemic Triton Bay Epaulette Shark, also known as the Walking Shark, which some of our divers had the opportunity to see and photograph. It was not all, though, as Broadclub Cuttlefish and Decorator Crab was some of the other sights.
When the last divers returned from the water and had some time for shower, we gathered in the salon for an Italian night dinner! Once dessert was finished, Urik proceeded with a presentation about the biggest fish found in the ocean, the Whale Sharks, mentioning some of their characteristics and curiosities, as well as indications for divers and snorkelers on how to behave when in the water with these graceful giants. We also used the opportunity to congratulate Nico, who completed his 500th dive today! Afterwards a few guests stayed around chatting while others decided to rest. Tomorrow we dive around the island of Namatota, leaving the Iris Strait.
Tuesday November 14th
As the sun rose along the blue sky we arrived in the northern part of Namatota, our destination for the day. In this region are found fishing platforms named bagans that are naturally frequently visited by whale sharks, the reason why we came in this region. Luckily, our divers had the opportunity to do three dives under the platforms and contemplate these majestic creatures as they hover under the platform attracted by the catch of the fishermen, who believe the sharks are a signal of good luck. There were two immature males measuring up to 5 meters/18 feet blessed our groups and helped providing a quite intense and rewarding experience!
After the third dive we started crossing towards the Pulau Adi, our last stop in Triton Bay before visiting Koon, in the eastern part of Banda Say. Our guests had the opportunity to enjoy the sunset (and a rainbow that came along) as we cruised the calm water of the bay. As the night settled, we had an earlier dinner which was followed by a presentation about the Epaulette Shark, mentioning the species seen around Papua and its characteristics, like habitat, behavior, diet and mating. For the ones who decided to stay, our guest Kelly shared a video of her diving adventures in the Sea of Cortez. By the end, most guests decided for an earlier night and were already in their staterooms. Tomorrow we dive in Nomon.
Wednesday November 15th
Before the sun rose in the sky in what turned out to be a bright sunny day, we arrived in the region of Nomon, where we spend our day of diving. The first site of the day was Tanjung Wap II, a gentle slope that turn around a corner and descends into a mini-wall filled with colorful sponges and soft coral and finally ascend into a shallow hard coral garden. It was a great opportunity for macro photography, as the divemasters pointed out our first Pontohi and Sevren Pygmy Seahorses, free-living creatures that are extremely difficult to spot. Besides that, pipefish like the Brown-banded and Reeftop and a couple of Day Octopuses. The visibility for this dive was around 20 meters/66 feet and the currents were gentle.
Further north we made our second stop of the day, close to Batu Cantik (Beautiful Rock, in Indonesian), where the following dive happened. Standing out in this site is the abundance and diversity of soft coral and gorgonians, where Bargibanti, Pontohi and Sevren Pygmy Seahorses were found. Besides that, Giant Clams, Reeftop Pipefish, Napoleon Wrasse, schooling Bumphead Parrotfish and a wide variety of anemonefish were also seen. As with the previous dive, the visibility was outstanding and the currents, even though slightly stronger, were quite manageable and allowed a pleasant drift along the reef.
Along the way to the last dive site of the day, Urik decided to make a stop by Nomon s waterfall and some of our guests, together with crew members, enjoyed the opportunity to swim around and simply enjoy the sound of the fall after lunch. After it we finallly reached The Seamount, the last dive site of our tour around Triton Bay. It was a fantastic dive, with visibility around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet and gentle currents, plenty of action unfolded. Schooling batfish, damselfish, anthias, Mimic Goatfish and a few Great and Chevron Barracudas were joined by an immense school of Big-Eye Jacks and, as if it wasn t enough, some of our divers had the opportunity to see an immature female Whale Shark of around 2,5-3 meters/15 feet cruising along the top of the seamount towards the end of the dive!
With all our divers back from on board it was time to start our crossing towards Koon, in the eastern Banda Sea. Due to the fact there was no night dive today, most guests opted to enjoy the sunset on the upper deck before the bell rang for dinner. The meal was followed by a presentation about Sea Turtles when it was mentioned the existing species in the world today and some of their characteristics, as well as the threats to these wonderful sea reptiles due to fishing and other human related activities. It was our last activity of the day and most guests stayed around chatting enjoying the early night.
Thursday November 16th
With favorable sea conditions, our arrival around Koon happened earlier than expected. This island is known as home of the biggest aggregation of groupers and snappers in Southeast Asia and today we spend the day diving along a considerable area named Too Many Fish.
The first dive, with the currents pushing and visibility around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, was the most active of all as our divers drifted along a wall while watching dense congregations of fish like Big-Eye Jacks, Chevron and Pick-handle Barracudas, Red and Midnight Snapper, Redtooth Triggerfish, fusiliers, damselfish, anthias and the occasional pelagic like Dogtooth Tuna and Spanish Mackerel provide great excitement and action. On top of that, three Giant Groupers, including a specimen measuring up to 2 meters/6 feet.
Our following dive had calmer conditions and happened mostly along a sandy slope where coral patches host plenty of critters and macro subjects. Some of the highlights pointed out by the divemasters included Ribbon Eels (both black and blue), Tasseled Scorpionfish, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse and also two Robust Ghost Pipefish. Towards the end of the dive, a considerable school of batfish showed up for the amusement of our divers.
Next dive, our last around Koon, happened with similar conditions as before and offered the opportunity for our groups to venture in deeper waters in order to try their luck and possibly spot some pelagic life. It did indeed happen, as the Giant Groupers were again around swimming among schooling rabbit, batfish and fusiliers.. Mobula Rays were also seen by some and a Whitetip Reef Shark was patrolling the reef. As the groups ascended to shallow waters, schooling Yellowtail, Pick-handle and Chevron Barracudas were seen: three species in one single area! A great, relaxing dive before saying good-bye to this beautiful dive location.
Once the last divers returned from the water we started sailing towards the north in the direction of Misool, south Raja Ampat, where our vessel returns home to kick-off the season in the archipelago. A shower descended upon us as we started the crossing and our guests used to the time to rest. Dinner happened earlier and after it a presentation about Manta Rays was given by Urik, mentioning both species described so far and some of their behavioral traits. This was our last activity and a few guests stayed around for another drink afterwards while others went to bed.
Friday November 17th
As we approached the southern region of Raja Ampat, our divers started gearing up for the first dive in the region of Warakaraket, where we spent the day. A seamount named Eagle Nest was the chosen one and with a mild current and visibility around 20 meters/66 feet, the groups had the opportunity to swim around the gaze at the abundant, colorful soft coral (especially in the orange coloration) and the schooling fish like fusiliers, Pick-handle Barracuda, Bumphead Parrotfish hovering on the top of the reef. Brown-marbled Groupers, Napoleon Wrasse and the first two Manta Rays, reef ones, were also seen.
South from the previous spot, on a submerged reef named Gus Ridge happened our second dive. The place, known as a Manta Ray cleaning station, didn t disappointed, as both reef and oceanic mantas (including a specimen of about 4,5 meters/15 feet) were seen spending time at separate cleaning stations along the reef. It was not all, as schooling Pick-handle Barracudas, batfish, fusiliers, Redtooth Triggerfish, Red Snappers and other turn this into quite a fishy dive that left all our guests with smiles on their faces as they returned. As a side note, the divemasters also pointed out a Wobbegong Shark and a yellow Leaf Scorpionfish.
In the afternoon we had the opportunity to visit one of the most celebrated dive sites of the whole archipelago: Magic Mountain, also known as Karang Bayangan (Shadow Reef, in Indonesian). The color and density of fish life on this site was simply astonishing and included Midnight and Red Snappers, Golden-spotted, Giant and Blue-fin Trevally, Big-eye Jacks, three immature Grey Reef Sharks, Napoleon Wrasse and a diverse reef populated by smaller fish like anthias, damsel, parrot, angel, butterfly and bannerfish. On top of that, at least three Reef Manta Rays, including a black one, were seen along the cleaning stations spread around this seamount. The visibility was around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet and the currents, even though present, were quite manageable. A fantastic dive!
As we moved towards the main islet of Yillet Besar, the sun settled along the calm waters and once the night arrived our guests started gearing up for the night dive, in Romeo. This is one of Raja Ampat s most sought after night dive spots due to the high probability of spotting the endemic Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark, the Walking Shark. The divemasters didn t disappoint and found not only one but three of them hiding and hunting among rocky formations and hard corals.
With all guests back on board, the bell rang for dinner and tonight we had a special dessert. Our guest Desi celebrated her 55th birthday and a cake was prepared and handled to her by the crew who also played some music to all. After the festivities Urik shared some of his underwater photography work done during his tenure as cruise director of the Raja Ampat Aggressor and this slide show was the last activity of the night. Afterwards most guests opted to rest and retired to their staterooms in positive energies due to this fantastic first day of diving in the archipelago of Raja Ampat! The boat sleeps around Yillet Besar tonight.
Saturday November 18th
As an early morning rain shower reached us, we approached again the region of Warakaraket and, in accordance to the wishes of our divers, did a repeat of the dive site Magic Mountain. With the currents pushing from the north, the groups had the opportunity to witness the fish action unfold as Giant Trevally, Orange-spotted and Blue-fin Jack, as well as Spanish Mackerel and Grey Reef Sharks hunting smaller fish like fusiliers and triggerfish, plenty of them. Besides that, up to four Reef Manta Rays were seen in the cleaning stations coupled with a beautiful school of batfish. The divemasters also had time to look for subjects along the reef and some of the findings included Wobbegong Shark and Reef Stonefish. Another fantastic dive in this remarkable site!
Once the first dive was over and the sun attempted to come out between the clouds, the vessel was moved towards the north where we dove in another of Misool s most known sites, Boo Windows, that receives this name due to the landscape formation that present two windows on the main rock of the islet. With a gentle current and visibility of about 15 meters/50 feet, our divers enjoyed a pleasant drift along the reef while gazing at the soft coral formations and astonishing abundance of sea fans. Plenty of silverside fish was seen forming bait balls that smaller jacks insistingly attacked. Besides that, along the reef, schooling Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers, Reef Octopus, Leaf and Tasseled Scorpionfish and a few nudibranchs were also seen.
After lunch and some rest, we were already positioned in the region of Fiabacet, where we visited Nudi Rock, another curious name that comes from the fact that the rock itself resembles the shape of a nudibranch. Hosting one of Raja Ampat s most impressive soft coral garden, it was certainly quite a sight for our divers to have the opportunity to swim pass it. Besides that, due to the currents present, some action unfolded and Grey Reef Sharks (including a pregnant female), Marbled Groupers, Giant Trevallys were seen hovering around the reef. It is an excellent spot for macro photography and the divemasters spotted the first Denise Pygmy Seahorse red color variation, previously known as the Raja Ampat Pygmy Seahorse.
We enjoyed a bright colored sunset among the landscape of Kalig, surrounded by beautiful, lush green islets and crystal clear waters. The name dive happened in Kalig Wall and some macro subjects were pointed out, including Sponge Crab, Crinoid Squat Lobster, Hydroid Crab and nudibranchs.
With all our guests on board and ready for dinner, we gathered in the salon for the meal. Once dessert was finished, a presentation about sharks was given, mentioning some of the general characteristics of these animals as well as facts and threats to their life due to overfishing. It was our last activity and most guests went to bed afterwards.
Sunday November 19th
Already on our way to the northern part of Misool, we first made a stop in Grouper Net, a seamount that provided us one of the most fantastic dive of the trip. Due to an immense bait ball of silverside fish, hunters like Orange-spotted and Giant Trevally, Bonito Tuna and schooling Mobula Rays were seen actively attacking the bait ball in what turned out to be a beautiful underwater ballet that our divers, among gentle currents and visibility around 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, had the opportunity to witness close by. Along the reef, hidden among hard coral, some critters were also pointed out by the divemasters, including Reef Stonefish and Boxer Crab. A splendid dive!
Up next came our dive in Two Trees Island, also known as Sagof, and even though the visibility was around 10 meters/33 feet, plenty of critters like nudibranchs, including a specimen from the Glossodoris genus, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Crocodile Flathead, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Painted Spiny Lobster and also a Day Octopus were seen. A pleasant dive before lunch.
The afternoon came and with it our third dive, done in Batu Kecil (Baby Rock, in Indonesian), one of the region s most extensive soft coral garden. With gentle currents pushing from the south, fusiliers, batfish, Giant Trevally and other fish gathered around a pinnacle where our groups spent the first half of the dive. The second was along a wall covered in soft coral and sponges where critters and macro subjects were pointed out, like nudibranchs, including Nembrotha and Flabellina specimens, Tasseled Scorpionfish, flatworms, Brown-banded Pipefish and all sorts of tunicates were photographed.
As we started our journey towards Batanta, our last diving stop of this trip, our guests gathered in the upper deck to enjoy the sunset, have a drink and already started commenting on some of the highlights from the past ten days. Dinner came and after the meal Urik explained the logistics for our last full day. What followed was a presentation about the archipelago of Derawan, Indonesian Borneo, Raja Ampat Aggressor s summer destination. Afterwards a few guests stayed around chatting while most decided to rest. Tomorrow we dive around two sandy bays of Batanta.
Monday November 20th
Together with the sunrise that shined over Batanta, we arrived around its southern region where we did two muck dives along some of the bays. The dive sites chosen were Happy Ending and Algae Patch #2 and, along the sandy slope where sediment build up in these calm waters, the divemasters pointed out a few critters and macro subjects. Some of the highlights included: juvenile Ornate Ghost Pipefish, nudibranchs, like Flabellina, Nembrotha and others, and Giant Mantis, Orangutan Crab and more.
With all our divers back on board, the crew took care of properly rinsing their equipment while we had lunch. After the meal a video from the past ten days was shown, including some marine life highlights and footage of our guests both on board and underwater. Jemy then opened the boutique and the rest of the afternoon was given for rest.
At the scheduled time we gathered in the upper deck for the farewell party, where the crew played some music for our guests and we had the opportunity to take some pictures and distribute a few awards.
Nico completed his 500th dive during this cruise and received our compliments.
As for the ones who completed all the available dives during the cruise, we presented them with the Aggressor Iron Diver medal. Congratulations Nico and Colleen!
Sunset came as we sailed towards the port city of Sorong and once the night settled we had our last signature dinner together. Once the meal was over Urik went through the drop-off schedule and logistics and then shared a slideshow with the pictures taken by our guests during the trip, a moment to share some of the memories together! When it was all over, a few guests stayed around chatting while others opted for an early night in face of the long journey that awaits them tomorrow.
Tuesday November 21st
As usual, the crew was waiting for our guests in the dive deck in order to bid their farewells once the time came. We wish them all a safe, pleasant trip back home and hope to see back on board the Raja Ampat Aggressor some time in the future. Happy bubbles!