Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *21 January 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 27 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdi
Cruise Director: Urik
Assistant CD: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Daryanto
3rd Engineer: Rahmat
Chef Assistant: Komang
Dive master: Muji
Dive master: Hery
Tender Driver: Jasman
Tender Driver: Ody
Mo: Two Trees Island, Farondi Seamount, Baby Rock, Wagmab Wall II
Tu: Black Rock, Candy Store, Andiamo, Candy Store
We: Four Kings, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Dunia Kecil
Th: Magic Mountain, Boo Windows, Yillet Kecil, Romeo
Fr: Selat 2, Tank Rock, Nudi Rock, Whale Rock
Sa: Magic Mountain, Grouper Net, Plateau
Su: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo Night
Mo: Mayhem I, Manta Ridge, Sawandarek Jetty, Mioskon
Tu: Blue Magic, Sardines Reef
GUESTS: Kim, Megen, Rick, Matt, Debbie, Paul, Tracy, Laurie, Mike, Colleen, Stan, Gordy, Todd, Jodi, Margie, Huck
Sunday January 21st
At the scheduled time, our guests were transferred from the pick-up spot to the vessel, where the crew was waiting with a welcome beverage and warm greetings. With all on board, we introduced each one to their respective staterooms so all could start getting acquainted with their accommodation.
What followed was our first meal together, a lunch prepared by the chef, Jemly, and his assistant, Komang. After the meal Urik, the cruise director, proceeded with a briefing about our vessel and its facilities, as well as some rules to follow on board. The afternoon was given for rest and to finish up the preparation of dive gear, done with the help of Hery and Muji, the divemasters.
Sunset came as we started sailing towards Misool, southern Raja Ampat and with the dusk came the time to get together in the salon for an early dinner. Once our guests finished dessert, Urik proceeded with the introduction of our itinerary, as well as the general dive briefing, mentioning the logistics and considerations regarding diving from our vessel. This was also an opportunity for the whole crew to introduce themselves formally, led by the captain, Ervanto. It was the final activity of the evening and once it was over most guests opted to rest while we sailed through the night.
Monday January 22nd
Before sunrise we arrived in the region of Sagof, our first stop in Raja Ampat. Our first dive, as usual, was the check dive, an opportunity for our divers to adjust their weight and equipment as well as for the photographers to test their cameras. The dive site chosen was Two Trees Island and, with a gentle current blowing from the south and visibility of about 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, it was a pleasant swim along the rugged landscape where orange, green and purple tree soft coral and also black coral dominate. Among the marine life seen, some of the highlights to be mentioned were Bubble Coral Shrimp, nudibranchs, including the genus Phidiana and Orangutan Crab for the macro lovers as well as a Hawksbill Turtle and the first Wobbegong Shark of the trip.
Once Ody, one of the dinghy drivers, brought the last group from the water, the bell rang for the full breakfast, ordered earlier through Indah, the stewardess. The meal was followed by some rest before our divers started gearing up for the second morning dive, in Farondi Seamount. With the currents still gentle and similar visibility, the conditions and the site offered an excellent wide-angle photography opportunity. Schooling Yellowtail and Pick-handle Barracudas, Bumphead Parrotfish, Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers and imposing gorgonians growing among barrel sponges were some of the scenes shot by the photographers. As for other marine life pointed out by the divemasters, it included Skeleton Shrimp, Brown-banded Pipefish, Tasseled Scorpionfish, two other Wobbegong Sharks and the first Pygmy Seahorse of the trip, a Denise specimen!
With the final group of divers back on board, it was time for the buffet-served lunch. This meal was followed by a longer period of rest, which most guests enjoyed in the upper deck where the ocean breeze could be felt. As we started gearing up for the afternoon dive in Baby Rock, brighter rays of sun came out among what had been a cloudy sky so far. Those came right on time, because this dive was an spectacle! A huge concentration of fish was present in the northern side of the small reef, where fusiliers, jacks, parrot, surgeon, rabbit and a considerable school of batfish swam gently among our divers. Since the currents were not strong (even though the visibility was slightly more limited than on the previous dives), the groups had the opportunity to calmly enjoy the action. Towards the end of the dive, for the macro photographers, a festival of nudibranchs happened, including the genus Flabellina, Risbecia and Nembrotha!
The anchor was already up when our divers started to return and were welcomed by the stewardess Maria, who was waiting for them with the afternoon snack. By this time we were on our way to Wagmab, the location of the night dive, and just before arrival, were greeted by a rain shower. The night dive in Wagmab Wall II was, as usual, an opportunity for critters hunting and spotting of macro subjects. The divemasters didnt disappoint and some of the highlights of this dive included: Pygmy and Bobtail Squid, Marbled Shrimp, flatworms, nudibranchs and the seldom seen Satomi Pygmy Seahorse!
Jasman, the other dinghy driver, returned with the last group from the water and once all had their showers the bell rang for the menu-served dinner. When the desserts were finished, a presentation about the history, culture and biodiversity of Raja Ampat was given. After that most guests retired to their staterooms. The boat sleeps in Wagmab this evening.
Tuesday January 23rd
As our first guests arrived at the dive deck and were greeted by the chief engineer, Yuli, our vessel arrived around Black Rock on its way to the region of Daram. A long underwater ridge surrounded by walls and hosting a beautiful coral garden on its shallow plateau, mixing soft and hard species. With a gentle southern current and visibility in between 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, our divers had the pleasure of drift along the reef while watching congregatin Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers, schooling Pick-handle and Chevron Barracudas, in between others. Critters were also pointed out by the divemasters, highlighted by juvenile Yellowtail Coris, Mantis Shrimp, Porcelain Crab and nudibranchs, including the genus Phyllidia.
When the last group returned, Ferdy, the chief officer, drove the main vessel further southeast, where we anchored close Candy Store, the second dive site of the day. The currents shifted from south to north but were still mild and our divers had another relaxing, pleasant swim around Candy Stores immense congregation of gorgonians from all sizes and colors. On them, Pygmy Seahorses could be seen, including both Bargibanti and Denise species! Other critters pointed out among the vibrantly colorful reef included nudibranchs, including the genus Flabellina, Reef Octopus, Sexy Shrimp and a few Tasseled Scorpionfish. One important detail worth to be mentioned during this dive was how bright were the color on the shallower part of the reef due to the bright sun that came out.
Close by Candy Store is located the site of the afternoon dive: Andiamo. Due to the size of the place and the amount of life it hosts, we witnessed some of our divers almost forgetting some of the things theyve seen during the dive because, according to them, there was just so much to be seen! The cruise started on the northwestern pinnacles, where schooling Pick-handle Barracudas, Giant Trevallys, Common Lionfish and a juvenile Whitetip Reef Shark could be seen. Our groups then proceeded to a ridge teeming with life, including a considerable congregation of Blue-lined Snappers mixed with different species of fusiliers, including Yellowtail, Bluestreak and Lunar. The end of the dive happened on a mind-blowing coral reef where some of the formations left all wondering how long theyve been there. Schooling Bumphead Parrotfish and also a pink anemone were other highlights. A fantastic dive!
As the last group returned, a downpour started and we relocated the vessel to a protected site where we did the night dive, a repeat of Candy Store. Some of the subjects pointed out included: Hydroid Crab, Skeleton Shrimp, nudibranchs, including the genus Chromodoris, Yellowmargin Moray Eel and also a pleasant surprise, two specimen of the endemic Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark, also known as the walking shark.
With all our guests back on board, the bell rang as we started heading towards the region of Wayilbatan, our destination for tomorrow. After dinner a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses was given by the divemasters Hery, who mentioned the species found in the world and detailed the ones seen in Indonesian. After that almost all our guests decided to rest while a few stayed around finishing the adjustments of their camera equipment.
Wednesday January 24th
Early in the morning we moved the vessel slightly north towards the submerged reef known as Four Kings, a group of four pinnacles connected by ridges where considerable concentrations of fish can be seen. This time it was not different and, with a gentle current coupled with outstanding visibility of around 25-30 meters/82-100 feet, our divers could see schooling fusiliers (Yellowtail, Bluestreak, Lunar), rabbit and surgeonfish, Big-Eye Jacks, Chevron and Pick-handle Barracudas and a few other pelagic, like Grey Reef Shark, Bonito Tuna and Spanish Mackerel chasing a meal around the reef. The coral formations are nothing short of splendid on this site as well and, coupled with a rugged terrain offer plenty of different compositions for wide-angle photography. On top of that, as if it wasnt enough, one of our groups could see a female pregnant Reef Manta Rays being cleaned on the lower pinnacle. What a great way to start the day!
As the morning moved on, the sun turned brighter in the sky as we approached Wayilbatan and started preparing for the second dive, in Barracuda Rock. The currents were slightly stronger this time, yet still manageable, and in the first half of the dive our groups could enjoy some of the fish action on the split point, where the currents hit the reef. Towards the second half was time to head for the sheltered area and search for critters, which included the red color variation of the Denise Pygmy Seahorse (also known as the Raja Ampat Pygmy Seahorse), nudibranchs, including from the genus Nembrotha, different species of gobbies and blennies which were captured by our photographers lenses.
After lunch a few of our guests decided to explore the beautiful scenery around Wayilbatan using the available kayaks and plenty of smiles could be seen once they returned on board!
The afternoon dive happened in Wedding Cake, a site that receives its name due to the curious landscape formation, resembling a layer cake constantly seen in weddings. The second half of this dive was quite special due to the confluence of factors as such calm waters, fantastic hard and soft coral formations mixed with sponges, tunicates and algae of a wide range of colours, plenty of critters to be seen and also fish action due to the presence of a bait ball of Silverside Fish. As for the action, Orange-spotted and Blue-fin Jacks, Pompano Jacks, Rainbow Runners, Bonito Tunas and also a Mobula Ray were seen trapping and attacking the bait ball. On the other side, among the critters the divemaster pointed out the highlights were nudibranchs, including the genus Flabellina, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Brown-banded Pipefish and both Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse.
Following sunset the preparations for the night dive started, done in Dunia Kecil. Some of the macro life seen on this dive included: Orangutan Crab, flatworms, blennies, Hydroid Crab and also an Electric Clam!
When our night divers returned on board and had shower, we gathered in the salon for more pleasant music and another delightful dinner. Once the meal was over, Urik gave a presentation about Manta Rays, mentioning the species so far described in the world, some of their general characteristics and also threats to their existence due to overfishing. Afterwards most guests decided to rest. Tonight we sleep around Wayilbatan.
Thursday January 25th
With the first rays of sun rising over the horizon in what turned out to be a relatively sunny day, we anchored the vessel around the island of Warakaraket, where we dove in one of Raja Ampats most celebrated dive site: Magic Mountain, also known as Shadow Reef. With a mild current and visibility of around 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, it was nothing short of a fantastic dive! The quantity and diversity of marine life seen around this gorgeous seamount left our divers impressed and mesmerized, capitalized by a moment where three schools of fusiliers retreated into the shallow part of the reef forming a curtain of fish with our three groups among it. On top of that, we got to spend more than 20 minutes with two majestic Reef Manta Rays that were visiting some of this sites cleaning station. Great, great dive!
Slightly north from Magic Mountain stands the island of Boo, where we dove another famous site of southern Raja Ampat: Boo Windows, which receives this name due to the two holes on the main islet that form windows and are a great wide-angle photography opportunity. As our groups jumped in the water, we first made a stop for our photographers to take their time photographing this remarkable landscape before drifing along the current (in visibility of about 15 meters/50 feet) where we encountered the likes of Hawksbill Turtle, schooling Blue-lined Snappers, Napoleon Wrasse and Grey Reef Shark, not to mention the amazingly colorful soft coral, which had its polyps open to catch the nutrients present in the water column. Towards the end of the dive, along the sites shallow soft coral garden, the divemasters pointed out a few critters, including Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Allied Cowry, nudibranchs, including the genus Nembrotha, and a few different dragonets.
The third dive of the day happened in Yillet Kecil, a small islet surrounded by an outstanding soft coral garden, especially an abundant concentration of xenia specimens. The currents were relatively mild and the visibility was similar to the previous dive, which offered a good opportunity for macro photography and critter hunting. Some of the highlights seen included: Bargibanti and the red color variation of the Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Sea Spider, nudibranchs, including a Leopard specimen, Crinoid Shrimp and also a Leaf Scorpionfish.
The sunset happened among the picturesque landscape of Misool and with the dawn came the time for our divers to start preparing for the night dive, done in Romeo. Some of the highlights seen during this dive included: octopuses (including a juvenile one), Hermit Crab, Peacock-tail Anemone Shrimp, flatworms and also a male Epaulette Shark.
With all our divers back on board and having had shower, we rang the bell for dinner. After the meal a presentation about sharks was given to the guests, mentioning some general characteristics of them, curious facts as well as threats due to overfishing. Once it was over, most guests, as usual, opted to rest while just a few stayed around working on their photos. The boat sleeps in Yillet tonight.
Friday January 26th
We moved the vessel from Yillet towards Boo early in the morning. Located in the southern side of the island is Selat 2, our first site of the day. Consisting of a wall that ascend into a densely covered soft coral garden, it was a relaxed dive that offered the opportunity for plenty of macro photography as well as contemplation of the coral diversity characteristic of Raja Ampat. Some of the critters pointed out by the divemasters included Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, including from the genus Tambja, Mantis Shrimp, Porcelain Crab. Besides that, most of our divers had the opportunity to be around a gentle Hawksbill Turtle that didnt seem to be bothered by bubbles at all.
The following dive happened in Tank Rock, a small rock surrounded by a large underwater ridge where prolific coral emerge and impress the divers that visit the reef. With the currents blowing from the north, thats the side of the reef where most of the fish congregate and where we spent most of the dive. Among the pelagic life seen were Giant Trevally, Spanish Mackerel and Grey Reef Shark, all of them chasing the likes of fusiliers, surgeon and Redtooth Triggerfish. The second half of the dive was destined for critter hunting and some of the findings included different species of blennies, Porcelain Crab, Gorgonian Shrimp and Peacock-tail Anemone Shrimp.
Our afternoon dive happened in Nudi Rock, known by some as the crowns jewel in terms of soft coral formations. With the sun bright in sky, our divers had the opportunity to witness the colors, shapes and diversity of it at its full display. While swimming among the soft coral reef, critters were also seen, including nudibranchs, including the genus Nembrotha, Wire Coral Shrimp, Denise Pygmy Seahorse and Tasseled Scorpionfish. During the first part of the dive, though, our groups had the opportunity to see some action among the currents, including a large school of Yellowtail Fusiliers being chased by jacks and also a school of both Chevron and Pick-handle Barracudas. The visibility for all dives today was at around 15 meters/50 feet.
The sunset came among a sky partly cloudy towards the west and bright blue to the east and after it our divers started gearing up for the night dive, in Whale Rock. Some of the highlights seen on our last night in the region of Fiabacet included: Reef Octopus, Hawksbill Turtle, Whitetip Reef Shark, Marbled Shrimp and nudibranchs from the genus Nembrotha and Flabellina.
Once all our night divers returned on board we gathered in the salon for dinner. The presentation of the evening today was about sea turtles, mentioning the species existing nowadays, their characteristics and also the harm caused to all of them resulting from some human activities. The boat sleeps around Fiabacet tonight.
Saturday January 27th
Early in the morning, with the first rays of sun in the sky, we started gearing up for our first dive of the day, a repeat of Magic Mountain which Urik, the cruise director, manage to schedule to answer the request of our guests. With a mild current and visibility of about 15 meters/50 feet, it was another pleasant, beautiful dive. Even though this time our groups only saw one Manta Ray on the move, a few Whitetip and Grey Reef Sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, schooling Big-Eye Jacks, fusiliers and plenty of smaller reef fish like anthias, damsel, parrot, butterfly and angelfish were observed closely by our guests.
Further north we stopped at another seamount, known as Grouper Net, where the second dive of this yet sunny day happened. The conditions were similar to the previous dive, which allowed our groups to slowly swim around the reef while searching for critters in the likes of nudibranchs, including the genus Glossodoris and Chromodoris, Ringed Pipefish, Tasseled Scorpionfish and also two Reef Stonefish, including a considerably big specimen. On top of that, towards the end of the dive the safety stop happened among a beautiful school of fusiliers that was eventually chased by Blue-fin, Orange-spotted and Giant Trevally.
Still heading north, we arrived in the region of Balbulol, where we did our last dive in southern Raja Ampat: Plateau. The currents were pushing slightly stronger and the visibility was slightly limited, which lead our groups to spend the majority of the dive in a sheltered area looking for the abundant macro life found on this site. Nudibranchs, like Nembrotha, Flabellina, Phillydia and others, Reef Octopus, Green Moray, Tasseled Scorpionfish and Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse were some of the highlights pointed out by the divemasters.
Already on our way towards Central Raja Ampat, our guests had time to enjoy the sunset before the bell rang for an earlier dinner. Once the meal was over, a presentation about the Derawan Islands, Raja Ampat Aggressors summer destination, was given to the guests as an invitation for all to come and visit us again! After most opted to have a longer resting night. Tomorrow we dive around Fam and Peneimu.
Sunday January 28th
As we arrived in the region of Fam and Peneimu, our divers started to gear up for the first dive of what turned out to be the brightest sunny day yet on our cruise. The dive site chosen was the world-known hard coral garden of Melissas Garden, where the density, diversity and length of hard coral formations seen left our guests in awe. With a gentle northern current and visibility of about 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, all groups could fully enjoy what the site has to offer, especially the amazing concentration of smaller reef fish of all sorts of colors hovering on top of staghorn, elkhorn and other species of coral. A fantastic dive!
Further northwest we anchored the vessel around the island of Keruo, where the dove on its channel on another beautiful, pleasant dive. With similar conditions, all could enjoy the sites topography as well as diverse marine life to be seen, including Wobbegong Shark, Whitetip Reef Shark, Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, Zanzibar Wire Coral Shrimp and Mushroom Coral Pipefish. All this led to a lot of smily faces when our dinghies returned on board.
Slightly north we moved towards the island of Peneimu, where we dove the ridge of Galaxy, an excellent site for macro photography. With the help of the divemasters, plenty of subjects were seen, including nudibranchs, from the genus Flabellina, flatworms, Sea Spider, Hairy Shrimp and a collection of Pygmy Seahorses: Bargibanti, Denise and the red color variation from the last species.
After the third dive of the day our guests went on a supervised tour to Peneimus view point, where all could contemplate the beautiful karst formations before going on a tour around the lagoon. The sunset happened on our way back to Keruo, where we did the night dive in Keruo Night, a great one! Some of the highlights pointed out by the divemasters included Sevren Pygmy Seahorse, juvenile Broadclub Cuttlefish, Decorator Crab and the seldom seen Blue-ringed Octopus!
When the last group returned and had shower, the bell rang for dinner. Once the meal was over, a presentation about Sea Turtles was shared with the guests, which decided to rest once it was over. The boat sleeps in Keruo tonight before heading to the Dampier Strait.
Monday January 29th
Before the first rays of sun rose, we arrived in the region of Yangeffo, where we visited the seamount named Mayhem for our first dive of the day. With the currents pushing from the south, our groups jumped on the split point and first watched the action unfold as Spanish Mackerel, Dogtooth Tuna and jacks chased an immense school of fusiliers. Along the sandy bottom, Blacktip Reef Shark and Pick-handle Barracudas were also seen before our divers moved towards the shallower part to search among the reef and observe the coral formations themselves, a beautiful mix of soft and hard species. Some of the findings included Wobbegong Shark, Tasseled Scorpionfish, not to mention the congregations of anthias, damselfish, and a few scattered Bumphead Parrotfish roaming along the reef.
Next on our schedule was a visit to one of Arboreks Manta Ray cleaning station: Manta Ridge. It was nothing short of an otherworldly dive, since weve had at one point seven Reef Manta Rays being cleaned and feeding among our divers, getting within reach of them and leaving all in a state of awe. An amazing dive!
Further south we reached the island of Mansuar, where we made a stop in one of Dampier Straits most biodiverse reef, the one that surrounds the jetty of Sawandarek, a local village. To start the dive, schooling Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers along with Oriental and Diagonal Banded Sweetlips were seen. Next our groups could contemplate Wobbegong Shark, Hawksbill and Green Turtle, Broadclub Cuttlefish, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, schooling Chevron Barracudas and batfish. All this not to mention the beautiful light effects happening on the jetty resulting of the rays of sun penetrating the water.
Back on board, we sailed the vessel towards the central part of the Strait, close to island of Mioskon, where we did the night dive. As usual, the divemasters pointed out a few interesting critters and camouflage masters to our guests, including Bobtail and Pygmy Squid, nudibranchs, from the genus Nembrotha and Pleurobanchius, Hermit and Decorator Crabs and also a couple of Wobbegong Sharks!
Once all were back on board and had showered, it was time for us to get together and had dinner. After dessert was finished, Urik gave a presentation about the Epaulette Shark, also known as the walking shark. It was all for the night and most guests opted to rest afterwards.
Tuesday January 30th
We woke up in Yanbuba for our last day of diving in Raja Ampat, finishing with two dives in the Dampier Strait. The first seamount of two visited was Blue Magic, another well-known dive site of the archipelago. With the currents blowing from the south and visibility of about 10-15 meters/33-50 feet, the first part of the dive was reserved to watching the action unfold on the split point, as Pick-handle Barracudas, Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel and Grey Reef Sharks could be seen swimming among schooling fusiliers, surgeon and rabbitfish. As our groups started drifting, a massive Potato Grouper was seen, as well as schooling soldierfish and squirrelfish. Towards the end of the dive, another school, this time of Big-Eye Jacks offered plenty of wide-angle photography opportunities.
Our last dive of this amazing cruise happened with an ebbing tide in Sardine Reef. With visibility of about 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, it was a pleasant and relaxing drift, where we could see a couple of Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks passing by and also look for critters along the way, including Wobbegong Shark, blennies, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Green Moray, Mantis Shrimp and others.
When the last group returned the crew started taking care of rinsing and hanging everyones equipment while we got together in the salon for lunch. After the meal Urik shared the video he prepared along the last ten days, with marine life highlights as well as some images of our guests diving and on board. Following the video was time for the boutique to open so the ones who wanted could take a souvenir home.
The afternoon came for a good rest before we got together for the farewell party, when the crew played a bit more music to our guests. It was also an opportunity for us to thank all for the visit and distribute some awards!
One of the congratulated was Megen, who completed her SSI Enriched Air Nitrox course on board. Cheers!
Rick and Mike were the ones who completed all the 33 dives available on this cruise to become our Aggressor Iron Divers! Congratulations!!!
Sunset came as we were on our way to Sorong. After it we had an earlier dinner which was followed by Urik giving a detailed explanation of the check-out procedure. Finally, we all watched a slideshow with some of the pictures taken by our guests on the last ten days and could already start sharing some memories from this lovely trip. It was also our last activity and most guests decided to rest in face of the long journey waiting tomorrow.
Wednesday January 31st
On the scheduled time the crew was waiting on the sun deck in order to bid their farewells to our guests. It was a wholeheartedly pleasure to have this group on board and we wish all a safe journey back home. Hope to see you guys back on board! Happy Bubbles!!!