Raja Ampat Aggressor Captain s log *19 February 2017
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 27 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Salgap
Cruise Director: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Daryanto
2nd Engineer: Ezra
3rd Engineer: Rahmat
Chef Assistant: Jemly
Dive master: Muji
Dive master: Hery
Dive master: Hanis
Tender Driver: Ody
Tender Driver: Ody
Tu: Two Trees Island, Baby Rock, Farondi Seamount, Wagmab Beach
We: Black Rock, Candy Store, Andiamo, Warna Berwarna
Th: Four Kings, Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock, Barracuda Rock
Fr: Magic Mountain, Boo Windows, Yillet Kecil, Romeo
Sa: Boo West, Nudi Rock, Tank Rock, Whale Rock
Su: Gus Ridge, Grouper Net, Plateau
Mo: My Reef, Melissa s Garden, Galaxy, Keruo Night
Tu: Manta Sandy, Manta Ridge, Sawandarek Jetty
We: Mioskon, Blue Magic
GUESTS: Li Nan, Nini, Sunny, Rui, Nimo, Wu, AJ, Mojo, Jason, Helen, Guan, Shan, Fan, Dylan, Yama, Sophie
Monday February 19th
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, Komang, and his assistant, Jemly. After the meal 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, Muji and Hanis, 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, our itinerary was detailed and the general dive briefing was given, 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.
Tuesday February 20th
Before sunrise we arrived in the region of Sagof, our first stop in Raja Ampat. The first dive, as usual, was the check dive, an opportunity for our divers to adjust their weight, equipment and trim. The dive site chosen was Two Trees Island and, with a gentle current blowing from the south and visibility of about 20-25 meters/566-82 feet, it was a pleasant swim along the rugged landscape where orange, green and purple soft coral and also black coral dominate. Among the marine life seen, some of the highlights to be mentioned were nudibranchs, including the genus Phidiana, Orangutan Crab and our first Pygmy Seahorse, a Denise specimen, for the macro lovers. Besides that, schooling fusiliers, Giant Trevallys and a few Bumphead Parrotfish were also seen.
Once Ody, one of the dinghy drivers, brought the last group from the water, the bell rang for the full breakfast, ordered earlier through the stewardess Maria. The meal was followed by some rest before our divers started gearing up for the second morning dive, in Baby Rock. With the sun bright in the sky, as it was during the whole day, the colors were as vibrant as ever. On the northern part of the reef fusiliers, jacks, parrot, surgeon and rabbitfish formed schools to feed on the nutrient-rich currents. But towards the end of the dive, on the sheltered wall of the reef, plenty of macro subjects could be seen, including nudibranchs from the genus Flabellina, Risbecia and Nembrotha, and also another specie of Pygmy Seahorse, the Bargibanti. The visibility was around 20 meters/66 feet.
After a buffet-served lunch, our guests had a longer rest and most enjoyed it in the breezy upper deck. At the scheduled time the bell rang for our third dive of the day, in Farondi Seamount. With the gentler current and similar visibility to the previous, the conditions and the site offered an excellent wide-angle photography opportunity. Schooling Pick-handle Barracudas, Blue-lined, Spanish Flag and Two-Spot 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 Bubble Coral Shrimp, Brown-banded Pipefish, Tasseled Scorpionfish and our first two Wobbegong Sharks!
The anchor was already up when our divers started to return and were welcomed by the stewardess Noci, 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. The site chosen was Wagmab Beach and it offered, as usual, an opportunity for critters hunting and spotting of macro subjects. The divemasters didn t disappoint and some of the highlights of this dive included: Pygmy and Bobtail Squid, Marbled Shrimp, flatworms and nudibranchs, including the Pleurobranchius.
Carly, 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 stayed around chatting. The boat sleeps in Wagmab this evening.
Wednesday February 21st
As our first guests arrived at the dive deck and were greeted by the chief engineer, Daryanto, our vessel arrived around Black Rock on its way to the region of Daram. On this long underwater ridge surrounded by walls and hosting a beautiful coral garden on its shallow plateau, mixing soft and hard species, 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. With a gentle southern current and visibility in between 20-25 meters/66-82 feet, critters were also pointed out by the divemasters, highlighted by juvenile Yellowtail Coris, Mantis Shrimp and Porcelain Crab.
When the last group returned, Salgap, the chief officer, drove the main vessel further southeast, where we anchored close to 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 Store s 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 and a few Tasseled Scorpionfish.
Close by Candy Store is located the site of the afternoon dive: Andiamo. The cruise started on the southeastern ridge, where schooling Pick-handle Barracudas and a wide variety of fusiliers, like Yellowtail, Bluestreak and Lunar, swimming among Spanish Flag Snappers could be seen. Our groups then proceeded to a plateau where the coral reef offers some of the most impressive formations of the whole archipelago. A great dive!
As the last group returned and had their afternoon snack, came the time to rest and enjoy the sunset on the upper deck. One of our guests also used the opportunity to try Noci s Balinese massage skills. The night dive was done in the neighbor site of Warna Berwarna and some of the subjects pointed out included: Hydroid Crab, Skeleton Shrimp and nudibranchs, including the genus Chromodoris.
With all our guests back on board, the bell rang as we started heading towards the region of Wayilbatan, our destination for tomorrow. Once the dinner was over, a presentation about the Epaulette Shark, also known as the Walking Shark was given, mentioning the species seen in western papua as some as some of their behavioral traits. After that almost all our guests stayed around finishing the adjustments of their camera equipment or having a laugh!
Thursday February 22nd
Early in the morning we moved the vessel slightly west towards the submerged reef known as Four Kings, a group of four pinnacles connected by ridges where considerable concentrations of fish can be seen. With a mild 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 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, including other marine life like Brown-marbled Grouper and Barramundi. Lovely 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 Wedding Cake, a site that receives its name due to the curious landscape formation, resembling a layer cake. 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 colors. A quick mention to 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.
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.
In between dives a few of our guests decided to explore the beautiful scenery around Wayilbatan using the available kayaks and good vibes were around upon return. They even had some time to visit a small beach nearby!
The afternoon dive happened inBarracuda Rock. The currents were slightly stronger this time and in the first half of the dive our groups could enjoy some of the fish action on the split point.. 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.
Following sunset the preparations for the night dive started, a repeat of Barracuda Rock. Some of the macro life seen on this dive included: Orangutan Crab, flatworms, blennies, Hydroid Crab and also the first specimen of the endemic Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark, also known as the Walking Shark. Our guests returned amazed by the sight!
When our night divers returned on board and had shower, we gathered in the salon for some music and another delicious dinner. Once the meal was over, 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, as has been the norm so far, stayed around chatting and having fun. Tonight we sleep around Wayilbatan.
Friday February 23rd
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 Ampat s 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. Fabulous experience!
Slightly north from Magic Mountain stands the island of Boo, where we dove 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, a stop for our photographers to take their time capturing the landscape before drifing along the current (in visibility of about 15 meters/50 feet). Some of the sights seen after that included schooling Blue-lined Snappers, Napoleon Wrasse and Grey Reef Shark. On top of that stood out the colorful soft coral where a few critters were pointed out by the divemasters, including Denise Pygmy Seahorse and nudibranchs, including the genus Nembrotha, and a few different dragonets, as well as juvenile Spiny Painted Lobster
The third dive of the day happened in Yillet Kecil, a small islet surrounded by an outstanding soft coral garden. 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, nudibranchs, Crinoid Squat Lobster and also a yellow and brown Leaf Scorpionfish.
The sunset happened and with it started the preparations for the night dive, done in Romeo. Some of the highlights seen during this dive included: Hermit and Sponge Crab, Peacock-tail Anemone Shrimp, flatworms and also a few scorpionfish.
With all our divers back on board and having had shower, we rang the bell for dinner. 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 waters, especially Raja Ampat. Once it was over, as usual, most guests stayed around chatting. The boat sleeps in Yillet tonight.
Saturday February 24th
We moved the vessel from Yillet towards Boo early in the morning. Located in the southeastern side of the island is Boo West. It is a wall that ascend into a densely covered soft coral garden, and ridges to a seamount where plenty of hard coral grow. In the sheltered area, protected from the currents which were pushing in the morning, some of the critters seen included Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, including from the genus Tambja, and Porcelain Crab. Besides that, most of our divers had the opportunity to be around a gentle Hawksbill Turtle that didn t seem to be bothered at all.
Our following morning dive happened in Nudi Rock, Raja Ampat s known gem when it comes to 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 reef, critters were also seen, including nudibranchs, 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 15-20 meters/52-66 feet. After this dive we congratulated Sophie, who completed her 200th dive!
During the afternoon we dove 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, that s 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 Candy Crab, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Winged Pipefish and also a white Painted Frogfish! A great dive, said our guests!
The sunset 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 included: Crocodile Flathead, Pygmy Squid, Hawksbill Turtle, 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. After the meal the crew played some music to our guests, who went nuts ! They were all lead by Ervanto, the captain. It was the last activity of the evening and tonight the boat sleeps around Fiabacet.
Sunday February 25th
Early in the morning, with the first rays of sun in the sky, we started gearing up for our first dive of the day, in Gus Ridge. With a mild current and outstanding visibility of about 25-30 meters/82-100 feet our groups could see a few Grey Reef Sharks, schooling Pick-handle and Yellowtail Barracudas, banner and surgeonfish as well as congregating Blue-lined Snappers. Towards the end of the dive, a school of Big-Eye Jacks could be seen on the way to the safety stop.
Further north we stopped at 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. 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 around 15 meters/52 feet, 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, Notodoris and others, Reef Octopus, Green Moray, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Bargibanti and Denise 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 Aggressor s summer destination, was given to the guests as an invitation for all to come and visit us again! After most stayed around chatting. Tomorrow we dive around Fam and Peneimu, in another region of the archipelago.
Monday February 26th
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 first rainy day of our cruise. The site chosen was My Reef, a seamount where plenty of fish congregate, like fusiliers, rabbit, surgeon and unicornfish, those being chased by Blue-fin and Giant Trevally and Spanish Mackerel. On top of that, along the reef we could see a few Green Turtles and also three Wobbegong Sharks from two different species: Ornate and Tasseled. Some critters were also pointed out, like nudibranchs and Crinoid Shrimp. The visibility was of about 25-30 meters/82-100 feet, as it was the case for the whole day.
The second dive happened in the all-world hard coral garden of Melissa s Garden, where the density, diversity and length of hard coral formations left our guests in awe. With a gentle northern current 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!!!
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 (including the red color variation) and also our first Pontohi specimen.
The rain persisted for the whole day and on our way to the island of Keruo we did the night dive: in Keruo Night. Some of the highlights pointed out by the divemasters included Decorator and Hydroid Crab, Marbled Shrimp and nudibranchs, including the Pleurobranchus.
When the last group returned and had shower, the bell rang for dinner. Once the meal was over, a presentation about sharks was shared with the guests, which decided to stay around once it was over. The boat sleeps in Keruo tonight before heading to the Dampier Strait.
Tuesday February 27th
Before the first rays of sun rose, we arrived in the region of Arborek, where we visited the two Manta Ray cleaning stations of the area: Manta Sandy and Manta Ridge. It was nothing short of otherworldly dives, where our guests could experience up to five rays at the same time hovering on top of heir heads, feeding and cleaning. An amazing morning, one not to be forgotten!
After such experience, we headed further south where we reached the island of Mansuar, and dove one of Dampier Strait s 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, Hermit and Sponge Crabs and also some of our guests had the last opportunity to see the endemic Raja Ampat Walking Shark!
Once all were back on board and had showered, it was time for us to get together and had dinner. After dessert was finished, a presentation about Sea Turtles was given. It was all for the night and tonight we sleep around Mioskon.
Wednesday February 28th
Early in the morning we were still around Mioskon for our last day of diving in Raja Ampat. The first dive site was the island itself, renowned for the quantity and diversity of fish it hosts. Some of the highlights pointed out by the divemasters included Bubble Coral Shrimp, Orangutan Crab, Wobbegong Shark, Pontohi Pygmy Seahorse and nudibranchs, including the genus Nembrotha. The visibility, as it was for both dives, was at around 20 meters/66 feet.
The second and last dive was in a seamount named Blue Magic, another well-known dive site of the archipelago. Some of the highlights seen included schooling Big-Eye Jacks, pelagic like Spanish Mackerel, Oceanic Triggerfish, Dogtooth Tuna and Grey Reef Shark, schooling cardinalfish and squirrelfish, as well as some critters like Tasseled Scorpionfish and Crocodile Flathead. A great, great way to finish the trip!
When the last group returned the crew started taking care of rinsing and hanging everyone s equipment while we got together in the salon for lunch. After the meal we shared the video 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 Li Nan, who completed her SSI Enriched Air Nitrox course on board. Cheers! Sophie and Guan were also reminded for completing their 200th dive on board the Raja Ampat Aggressor!
Li Nan, Sunny, Rui, Wu, Mojo, AJ, Guan, Dylan and Sophie 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 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.
Thursday March 1st
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!!!