Raja Ampat Aggressor Captains log *20 March 2018
*Air Temp. 28 - 35 C *Water Temp. 28 C - 30 C
Chief Officer: Ferdik
Cruise Director: Urik
2nd Cruise Director: Cassio
Chief Engineer: Yuli
2nd Engineer: Esra
2nd Chef: Irwan
Dive master: Muji
Dive master: Gracia
Tender Driver: Yudhi
Tender Driver: Ody
Deck hand: Jasman
We: Two Tree Island, Sagof Seamount, Baby Rock, Wagmab Beach
Th: Black Rock, Andiamo, Candy Store, Candy Store
Fr: Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock, Dunia Kecil, Barracuda Rock
Sa: Boo West, Tank Rock, Nudi Rock, Whale Rock
Su: Magic Mountain, Boo Windows, Yillet Kecil, Romeo
Mo: Tank Rock, Grouper Net, Baby Rock
Tu: Melissas Garden, Keruo Channel, Galaxy, Keruo Night
We: Mayhem I, Manta Ridge, Mioskon, Mioskon
Th: Sardine Reef, Blue Magic
GUESTS: Jolanda, Chrigi, Chris, Agnes, Sue, Mark, Pat, Sergey, Olga, Michael, Christine, Bill, Stephen, Scuba Dan, Jojo
Tuesday March 20th
At the scheduled, all our guests were greeted by the crew upon arrival aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. First in line to shake their hands was the captain, Ervanto, followed by Maria and Noci, the stewardesses, who had a fresh welcome drink to offer. We proceeded then with the introduction of the staterooms, so our guests could start getting acquainted with the accommodation.
The bell then rang for our first meal together, a buffet-served Indonesian lunch, which Komang, the chef, and Irwan, 2nd chef, prepared for all. Once the last ones finished their meals, the cruise director, Urik, proceeded with an introduction briefing about the boat and its facilities, as well as some of our policies on board.
The afternoon was given for rest and preparation of dive equipment, done with the assistance of Gracia and Muji, the divemasters. As we started motoring the vessel towards Misool, the southern region of Raja Ampat, our guests could experience a pink-colored sunset in the vicinity of Sorong city.
With the night came night for an earlier dinner. After dessert Urik gave a proper introduction of our itinerary and followed it with the first dive briefing, mentioning the logistics related to diving from our vessel. It was also an opportunity for the crew to present themselves formally. Once it was all over, most guests, tired from the long journey all the way towards West Papua, Indonesia, opted to rest.
Wednesday March 21st
It was still night when, after crossing the Salawati Strait, we arrived at our first diving destination, Sagof, in south Raja Ampat. After a buffet-served light breakfast, the bell rang for our first briefing: the check dive. The site chosen was Two Tree Island, a picturesque rock out of the water that descends into walls on the northern and southern side and host two coral-filled overhangs on the eastern and western tips. With a mild current and visibility of about 15-20 meters/50-66 feet, it was an opportunity for our divers to check their buoyancy, equipment, weights and also adjust communication in between buddy teams. As for the marine life seen, our groups had the chance to see the first two Pygmy Seahorses of the journey, a Bargibanti and a Denise.
When Yudhi, the dinghy driver, returned with the last group, Yuli, the chief engineer and Ferdi, chief officer, were waiting to greet all. What followed was a full breakfast ordered earlier and some time to rest before the second morning dive, in Sagof Seamount. Known as a site were plenty of fish congregate, especially when a plankton-rich current washes the reef, it wasnt different today, as schooling fusiliers, rabbit, surgeon and unicornfish could be seen as well as Pick-handle and Yellowtail Barracudas. Hiding among hard coral bommies we could also see the first Wobbegong Shark of the week, a Tasseled. Currents were present on this dive, yet still managed by the divemasters, and visibility was around 15 meters/50 feet.
With the last few divers back on board, we gathered in the salon for the buffet-served lunch. Once the meal was over, a few guests stayed around identifying some of the fish species seen so far while most opted to have an after lunch nap, the siesta. The bell then rang for the afternoon dive, done in the abundantly covered in soft coral reef named Baby Rock (Batu Kecil, in Indonesian). Around the southern tip of the reef, where the currents were hitting the rock, plenty of Yellowtail and Bluestreak Fusiliers, Longfin Batfish and a few Red Snappers as well as Giant Trevallys were seen. In the sheltered area of the rock, abundant macro life was seen, including nudibranchs, from the genus Pterolidia and Nembrotha, flatworms, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Brown-banded Pipefish and another Tasseled Wobbegong Shark, a female.
The anchor had been already lifted once the last group returned, as we started motoring the vessel west, towards the beautiful region of Wagmab. After sunset, which was barely seen due to the clouds that were ever presented during this gray and windy day, we started gearing up for the night dive, done in Wagmab Beach. As it is usually the case on our night divers, the divemasters spent their time looking for critters and some of the highlights found were nudibranchs, including the genus Glossodoris, flatworms, fireworms, Marbled Shrimp and also the first endemic Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark, also known as the Walking Shark!
With the last divers back on board and having had showered, the bell rang for the menu-served dinner. After dessert Urik gave a presentation about the history, culture and marine biodiversity of Raja Ampat and West Papua, which was the last activity of the night. Most guests opted to rest immediately afterwards. The boat sleeps in Wagmab tonight.
Thursday March 22nd
An hour before sunrise we arrived in the surroundings of Black Rock, a solitary rock formation home to a long finger reef where the northern and southern sides are formed by walls that extend into east and west ridges. The coral formations are especially abundant on the southeastern corner, including a considerable lettuce coral congregation where plenty of Blue-lined and Spanish Flag Snappers could be seen. This was, though, only the beginning of this fantastic dive, which happened with visibility of about 15-20 meters/50-66 feet and gentle currents. Schooling Longfin Batfish and Chevron Barracudas could be seen and approached carefully by our divers while Yellowtail Fusiliers, rabbit and surgeonfish were also seen. Towards the end of the dive, along the shallow reef, critters including nudibranchs, like the Chromodoris genus, Spotfin Lionfish, Bubble Coral Shrimp and flatworms were pointed out.
Further southeast from Black Rock is located the two rocks where the reef of Andiamo stands. The underwater landscape of this relatively large site is quite diverse and makes for an spectacle itself; it includes two pinnacles in the northwestern tip, a crack in between the two islets and a ridge that ascends into a plateau. Our dive started on the pinnacles where Pick-handle Barracudas, Bluestreak and Yellowtail Fusiliers, Spanish Mackerel and Giant Trevally could be seen on the blue, while closer to the reef Common Lionfish and Spanish Flag Snappers could be seen. Along the currents our groups drifted through a sandy channel and arrived at a shallow plateau where hard and soft are in abundance and this is where our dive finished. The visibility, for both this and the following dive was at around 10-15 meters/33-50 feet.
Candy Store was the dive site chosen for the afternoon dive, where one of the highlights are the gorgonian formations, of all sizes and colors. Along the sea fans, as usual, Pygmy Seahorses could be seen, both Denise and Bargibanti. It was not all, as other macro subjects like Sarasvati and Peacock-tail Anemone Shrimp, Bubble and Wire Coral Shrimp, nudibranchs, including the genus Nembrotha. Towards the end of the dive the safety stop was done in between impressive rocky formations where tree-like soft corals on purple, pink and orange coloration paint the reef. The currents were a factor on this dive so the divemasters lead the groups into the sheltered area.
Once the last group surface, as in the second dive, a rain shower arrived to refresh us before the sunset, which happened among a few clouds in the sky. Preparations then started for the night dive, a repeat of Candy Store. Some of the highlights included: Decorator Crab, Yellowmargin Moray Eel, Hydroid Crab and another Raja Ampat Walking Shark!
Ody, the dinghy driver, brough the last group back to the vessel and afterwards the bell rang for dinner. We gathered in the salon and after the meal a presentation about about Pygmy Seahorses, mentioning species so far described and some of their characteristics, was given to the guests. It was our last activity and most opted to rest afterwards. By this time we were heading towards the sheltered waters around Wayil.
Friday March 23rd
During the night we arrived at the surroundings of Wayil, where, early in the morning of another relatively cloudy sky, our divers started preparing for the first dive of the day, done in the peculiar Wedding Cake, which has this name due to its landscape resembling a layer cake, commonly seen in wedding celebrations. Our groups jumped on the split point where schooling Yellowtail Fusiliers, Giant and Orange-spotted Trevally and rabbitfish where seen. Most of the dive, though, was spend on the sheltered slope where nudibranchs, from the genus Phidiana and Flabellina, Papuan Scorpionfish, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Yellowmargin Moray Eel and other critters were pointed out by the divemasters.
The second dive happened on the neighbor site of Barracuda Rock, where we did a similar profile to the previous dive, by jumping on the split point, watching briefly the action and continuing into a protected wall to search for some of the Raja Ampats notorious critters. Denise Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha genus, Sexy Shrimp, Tasseled Scorpionfish, in between others were seen. The visibility, as it was for the whole day, was in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet.
The afternoon dive happened on the small, yet splendidly colorful, reef of Dunia Kecil, where minutes after jumping in the water some of our divers could see a school of about thirty Bumphead Parrotfish roaming around the reef. It was just the start, as Lunar and Pygmy Fusilier were being actively chased by Orange-spotted and Blue-fin Trevally, besides Giant Trevally and even Brown-marbled Groupers were involved in the action. Towards the end of the dive, a Wobbegong Shark was also seen!
After the sunset, which happened among the gray sky, we started gearing up for a repeat of Barracuda Rock. It was a critter-filled dive, where Pygmy Squid, baby Reef Octopus, Papuan Scorpionfish, mating Leopard Nudibranchs and another Raja Ampat Walking Shark were seen, a great night dive!
With everyone back on board, we gathered in the salon for dinner, which was followed by a presentation about the Walking Shark, mentioning some of the characteristics of these peculiar animals seen lately. It was all for the evening and most guests opted to rest afterwards.
Saturday March 24th
The first rays of sun fought their way in between the cloudy sky as we arrived close to the island of Boo for the first dive of the day, in Boo West. A relaxing start, since the currents were gentle and visibility was in between 20-25 meters/66-82 feet (the norm for the whole day), giving the opportunity for our guests to visit the seamount that rests west of the main reef where the coral cover is dense, diverse and healthy, impressing all. Along the reef critters were spotted, including nudibranchs from the genus Notodoris and Pterolidiae, different species of blennies, Wire Coral Shrimp, Denise Pygmy Seahorse and more. As one of our groups ascended to the safety stop, a female Blacktip Reef Shark who were possibly recently engaged into mating rituals (the markings on the body showed it) passed close by.
Next came a dive in the neighbor site of Tank Rock, another one of Fiabacets, the region we were diving today, astonishing coral gardens. With stronger northern currents, our groups first watched the action unfold as schooling Big-Eye Jacks, Red Snappers, Giant Trevallys were seen among schooling fusiliers, rabbit and surgeonfish. Towards the second half of the dive, on the sheltered area of the ridge, a pleasant surprise: a white Giant Frogfish was pointed out by the divemasters hiding among sponges of the same coloration! Besides that, Peacock-tail Anemone Shrimp, Brown-banded and Orange-spotted Pipefish and nudibranchs, including the Phyllidia were also seen. Another highlight was the sun, who was bright in the sky during the dive.
As our divers started gearing up for the third dive of the day, a rain shower approached and even though the weather above the water was dark, under it we experienced a fantastic, world-class dive in Nudi Rock and its outstanding soft coral garden. To start the dive, schooling Yellowtail and Lunar Fusiliers, as well as rabbit, surgeon, unicorn and batfish were seen. Following the gorgonian covered slope, an extremely friendly Hawksbill Turtle approached one of our groups almost as if asking to be photographed and following this gentle encounter, two Grey Reef Sharks were seen patroling the reef while being followed by a school of Rainbow Runners. Towards the end of the dive, a gentle swim among the multicolored coral and also time to spot a Denise Pygmy Seahorse of the red coloration. What a dive!
The rain went away and after it we could enjoy a sunny end of the afternoon. With the sunset we started the preparation for the night dive, done in Whale Rock. For the ones who joined it, the opportunity was there to see the likes of nudibranchs, including the genus Nembrotha, Orangutan Crab, Donald Duck Shrimp and also a yellow Warty Frogfish, great night dive!
With all our guests back on board and having showered, we gathered in the salon for another dinner. Once the dessert was finished, a presentation about Manta Rays was given to the guests and once it was over most opted to rest, while others finished preparing their camera equipment for the next day. Tonight we sleep around Fiabacet.
Sunday March 25th
Along the sunrise, which happened bright in the sky, we arrived east of Warakaraket island, where we visited Magic Mountain, also known as Shadow Reef. The currents were a factor during this dive, as our divers had to handle it due to the shape of the reef. Some of the marine life seen included nudibranchs, from the genus Glossodoris, Blue-lined Snappers, juvenile Grey and Whitetip Reef Shark as well as schooling Pick-handle Barracuda, Big-Eye Jacks and Yellowtail Fusiliers. The visibility, as it was for the whole day, was in between 20-25 meters/66-82 feet.
Further north we arrived close to the island of Boo, where we dove the notorious Boo Windows, another one of Misools fantastic soft coral gardens. The currents were mild and our groups could enjoy a mellow drift along the reef while Red and Midnight Snappers, Spanish Mackerel, Bumphead Parrotfish and Napoleon Wrasse swam around, as well as schooling Yellowtail and Bluestreak Fusilier, Spanish Flag Snappers and a couple of Blacktip Reef Shark patrolled the reef. As for the macro life, nudibranchs, like the Nembrotha, Tasseled Scorpionfish, Denise Pygmy Seahorse and flatworms were pointed out by the divemasters.
The afternoon dive happened in the picturesque rock known as Yillet Kecil, another pleasant dive where currents were almost a non-factor and our groups could search for plenty of macro subjects to be photographed. Some of them included two Leaf Scorpionfish (white and yellow), Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, nudibranchs, including the genus Chromodoris, Papuan Scorpionfish. Towards the end of the dive, schooling batfish, Pick-handle Barracudas and surgeonfish made a enjoyable safety stop among the coral garden.
The sunset happened behind the main island of Yillet Besar and colored the sky bright red as our divers backrolled in Romeo for the night dive. Pygmy Squid, Crocodile Flathead, Hydroid Crab and, for another night, a specimen of the Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark, this time a male. Quite an enjoyable night dive!
With all divers back on board and ready for dinner, we gathered in the salon for the meal. Once dessert was finished, the crew surprised our guests performing a couple of songs with Ervanto, the captain, on the guitar, Yuli, the chief engineer, on the cajón, and some of the other crew members helping with singing and other instruments. It was the last activity of the evening and afterwards most guests opted to rest. The boats sleeps around Yillet Besar tonight.
Monday March 26th
We moved from our previous spot along with the sunrise, arriving in Fiabacet, where we dove two days ago, to repeat Tank Rock and give our guests another opportunity to photograph and stunning white Giant Frogfish that can be seen on this site. This time the animal was in a more suitable position for photography and our guests used the opportunity. It was not all, though, as schooling Big-Eye Jacks, Spanish Mackerel, Napoleon Wrasse and Grey Reef Shark were also seen as well as Orange-spotted Pipefish and different species of blennies. The currents were mild and visibility was outstanding, in between 25-30 meters/82-100 feet.
The following dive happened slightly north, in the seamount named Grouper Net. The conditions were gentle, good visibility and no currents, which lead to pleasant swim around the seamount and its pinnacles, one of which hosts a crack where Yellowtail, Bluestreak and Lunar Fusiliers congregated. Macro subjects were all around, like Mushroom Coral Pipefish, Common Lionfish, Reef Stonefish and even a Mandarinfish!
Before we started our crossing towards the region of Fam & Pyainemo, in Central Raja Ampat, we dove again the small, yet beautiful reef of Baby Rock. It was a show of nudibranchs and the genus spotted by the divemasters included: Nembrotha, Glossodoris, Notodoris, Pterolidiae, Flabellina, Chromodoris and Phyllida. Just that would have made it a great dive, especially for macro photography, but, even though with visibility around 15 meters/50 feet, our groups could also seen schooling batfish, fusiliers and a few different species of jacks on the hunt.
The dinner happened straight after sunset due to the fact that we didnt have a night dive during our crossing. After the meal a presentation about the Derawan Islands, Raja Ampat Aggressors summer destination, was given as an invitation for our guests to join us sometime soon. Urik mentioned some of the underwater highlights of the islands of Sangalaki, Kakaban, Maratua and Derawan, not to mention our dives with whale sharks!
Tuesday March 27th
It was still dark when our vessel arrived in the surroundings of Fam & Pyainemo, the diving region of the day, where we experienced in all dives visibility in between 10-15 meters/33-50 feet and mild currents. The first dive happened in the otherworldly hard coral garden of Melissas Garden, where the density, size, diversity and overall health of the acropora species stand out for the ones who are lucky to visit it. Swimming along the formations were anthias of different colors, plenty of species of damselfish, blennies, gobies and a few parrot, angel and butterflyfish as well as smaller Orange-spotted Jacks. Schooling Yellowtail and Bluestreak Fusiliers were also seen hovering around the reef feeding upon the plankton-rich water and some macro subjects like Denise Pygmy Seahorse and nudibranchs, including the genus Thecacera, were also pointed out by the divemasters.
The following dive, with a brighter sun in the sky, happened in the shallow waters of the Keruo Channel (Keruo being one of the small islands in the region). It was yet another fantastic coral garden to be observed by our groups, this time also including a variety of soft coral species and gorgonians. Plenty of critters were also seen, including Mushroom Coral Pipefish, nudibranchs, including the genus Flabellina, Sarasvati and Popcorn Shrimp, in between others. A Hawksbill Turtle and a Broadclub Cuttlefish were also seen.
After noon we started gearing up for the third dive, the critter filled ridge named Galaxy. As if our divers havent seen them enough, Bargibanti and Denise Pygmy Seahorses, including red and white color variations of the last, were pointed out by the divemasters, as well as Mushroom, Ringed and Winged Pipefish, nudibranchs, including the Leopard Chromodoris, Sea Spider. It was not all, though, as another Broadclub Cuttlefish and plenty of smaller reef fish were also seen along the top of the ridge. Quite a pleasant dive!
When the last guests returned we started preparing for a supervise walk towards Pyainemos view point of beautiful turquoise to green waters surrounding small limestone islets. Afterwards Ody and Yudhi drove the groups around a small tour where we stopped in a hidden lagoon to relax for a bit.
Back on board, we motored the vessel back towards Keruo, where we did the night dive in Keruo Night, a sandy slope where critters can be seen, including Decorator Crab, Donald Duck Shrimp, Tasseled Scorpionfish, juvenile cuttlefish and Blue-spotted Ribbontail Stingray. When the divers returned we started making our way towards Yangeffo, the destination of tomorrow.
Dinner happened as usual as after it a presentation about Sharks was given to the guests, mentioning some of their general characteristics, curious facts and also threats due to overfishing and other human-related practices. It was all for the evening and most guests opted to rest as we anchored the vessel.
Wednesday March 28th
We woke up already in the surroundings of Mayhem I, one of central Raja Ampats most fishy seamounts, where a vibrant mixture of hard and soft coral combines with a few sandy patches where fish congregate. The currents were gentle and visibility was around 15 meters/50 feet and our groups could witness Orange-spotted and Golden Jacks hunting silverside baitfish while a few Tasseled and Ornate Wobbegongs could be seen (in fact up to four were seen), as well as Crocodile Flathead, Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp, nudibranchs, including Flabellina. On top of that, a beautiful Ornate Ghost Pipefish was also seen and both a blue and black Ribbon Eels. A lovely dive!
The following dive happened in the surroundings of Arborek, along Manta Ridge. The currents were a factor during this dive and our groups spent most of the dive in the sheltered side of the ridge looking for critters, which included nudibranchs, from the genus Nembrotha, Tasseled Wobbegong Shark and also a few bigger animals like Bumphead Parrotfish and Blacktip Reef Shark.
Further east we arrived at our dive site for both the afternoon and night dive, the small island of Mioskon. During the day we dove its sandy slope where plenty of big rock formations where abundant coral thrive and smaller reef fish swim around, like anthias, damsel, butterfly and parrotfish. With almost no current, our divers could also swim among a beautiful congregation of Blue-lined, Spanish Flag and One-spot Snappers while spotting critters like Sea Spider, Popcorn and Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp and nudibranchs, including the genus Flabellina.
After sunset on the beautiful Dampier Strait we started preparing for the night, a repeat of Mioskon. Some of the highlights of this dive included: NIGHT DIVE.
Back on board we had dinner together and once the dessert was finished a presentation about Sea Turtles was given, mentioning the species seen nowadays in our oceans, as well as some general characteristics of these reptiles and also threats to their existence due to overfishing. Afterwards most guests retired to sleep. The boat sleeps around Mioskon tonight.
Thursday March 29th
Early in the morning we were still around Mioskon for our last day of diving in Raja Ampat. The first dive site was the seamount named Sardine Reef, renowned for the quantity and diversity of fish it hosts. It was quite an active and impressive dive, as Grey and Blacktip Reef Sharks, Giant Trevallys, Brown-marbled Groupers and Blue-fin Trevallys were seen constantly chasing fusiliers and surgeonfish (one group even had the opportunity to to witness from a short distance the pelagic ambush one of the reef fish in a coral head), while Napoleon Wrasse, Whitetip Reef Shark, Chevron Barracuda, banner and batfish circled around the reef. The currents were mild and visibility was in between 15-20 meters/50-66 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.
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 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!
Michael and Agnes 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.
Friday March 30th
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!!!