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Raja Ampat Aggressor :

 

Log Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Entry By: Raja Ampat Aggressor Crew









 

CREW:

Captain: Ervanto

Chief Officer: Ferdik

Cruise Director: Urik

2nd Cruise Director: Cassio

Chief Engineer: Daryanto

2nd Engineer: Esra

3rd Engineer: Rahmat

Chef: Komang

2nd Chef: Irwan

Stewardess: Nocita

Stewardess: Maria

Dive master: Jerod

Dive master: Gustin

Tender Driver: Ody

Tender Driver: Carly

 

DIVE SITES:

Th: Medang, Angel Reef, Little Angel

Fr: Critters’ Creek, Techno Reef, Kampung Bontoh

Sa: Karang Makassar, Batu Bolong, Tatawan Besar, Waenilu

Su: Tengah Kecil, Secret Garden, Rhyno Torpedo

Mo: Cannibal Rock, Cannibal Rock, Rhyno Torpedo, Lehok Sera

Tu: Manta Alley, Manta Alley, Pink Beach, Loh Liang Bay

We: Crystal Rock, Castle Rock, Batu Monco

Th: Batu Bolong, Sebayur Kecil, Sebolah Kecil

Fr: Raja I, Tables, Raja II, Raja II

Sa:

 

GUESTS: Vladimir, Eric, Karen, Dallas, Gary, Diane, Leslie, Dale, and Tom

 

Wednesday May 23rd

At the scheduled time our group of guests was picked-up and transferred to the vessel, where the crew, led by Ervanto, the captain, was waiting for all with a smile and greetings! With a fresh towel and a welcome beverage in hand, they were all introduced to respective staterooms before the bell rang for our first meal together: lunch.

Komang, the chef, and Irwan, 2nd chef, prepared one of our Indonesian dishes as the welcome meal. Afterwards Urik, the cruise director, proceeded giving an introduction briefing which mentioned some details about the boat, as well as some of the rules we apply on board along with safety procedures. The afternoon was time to rest and enjoy the sunny weather in the beautiful and charming eastern side of Bali.

After sunset, already with their dive gear prepared thanks to the help of Jerod and Gustin, the dive masters, we gathered in the salon for an early dinner. Once dessert was over, Urik gave another briefing, this time mentioning the dive logistics and procedures aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. This was the last activity of the evening and afterwards most guests opted to rest, as we were already on our way towards the island of Mojo, in Sumbawa, our first stop.

 

Thursday May 24th

Due to our first long crossing of this trip, this day we didn’t have the first morning dive. The schedule, nevertheless, remained the same and our guests could enjoy a light buffet-served breakfast and, after some rest, a full breakfast before we finally arrived in Medang island, surrounding Pulau Mojo.

The first dive was the check one, an opportunity for our divers to get acquainted with their gear, adjust their buoyancy and start getting used to diving from our vessel. A sloping reef mostly formed the topography of the site, a long corner extending out of the main island, with a plateau staying at about 10 meters/33 feet. The visibility was of around 25 meters/82 feet and the currents were mild, turning this into a gentle, relaxing dive where some of the highlights included a group of Dogtooth Tunas, schooling Rainbow Runners, congregating Barred Surgeonfish and Goldenbelly Damselfish, as well as a few critters, including two male Ribbon Eels and a couple of nudibranchs, including the genus Pterolidiae.

When the last group was brought back by Carly, one of the dinghy drivers, the bell rang for the next meal: lunch! Meanwhile our guests enjoyed the meal; we motored for about and from the first dive site to large submerged reef known as Angel Reef. The conditions of the second dive of the day were similar, even though the sun was not as bright as during the morning, the beginning of the dive was stunning, as different species of fusiliers and surgeonfish could be seen being chased by a couple of Spanish Mackerels and Blue-fin Trevallys. Schooling Midnight Snappers and a few patrolling White tip and Blacktop Reef Sharks also caught the attention of our divers before ascending to a shallow plateau where a few camouflage masters, including Tasseled Scorpion fish, were pointed out by the divemasters.

Maria, one of the stewardesses, was waiting for our divers with the snack ready. After the dive most opted to rest in the sun deck enjoying the pleasant ocean breeze and the blue sky before gearing up for the following dive, done before the sunset. The site chosen was Little Angel, an extension of the previous location where a shallow sandy plateau descends into a slope that hosts plenty of coral heads, where some of the highlights seen included an active Reef Octopus!

With the last divers back on board, we started motoring further east towards Sangeang, our stop of tomorrow. Dinner happened slightly earlier due to the absence of night dive and after the meal Urik introduced a presentation about Pygmy Seahorses, mentioning all the species existing in the world and detailing the ones most commonly seen in Indonesian waters. Following the slideshow most guests decided to rest and retired to their staterooms for a good night of sleep.

 

Friday May 25th

Following a whole night and half of the morning of crossing, we finally arrive at the volcanic island of Sangeang, which offered a stunning sight out of the water on this that turned to be a bright sunny day with a beautiful blue sky. Today our diving was reserved for critter hunting among the black sand surrounding the volcano, and the ’muck’ diving left our divers impressed!

During the first two dives, done in Critters’ Creek and Techno Reef, with similar topographies (sandy slopes with a few coral heads where sponges also thrive), some of the highlights pointed out by the eagle-eyed dive masters included: Warty and Painted Frogfish, Day Octopus, Broadclub Cuttlefish, nudibranchs from varied genus, like Tambja, Nembrotha, Thecacera and Glossodoris, Spiny Devilfish as well as the stunning Mimic Octopus, which was quite active and showing off to the cameras, which captured a ’lobster’ mimic at some point. With visibility of about 25 meters/82 feet and no currents, two great dives!

Our last dive of the day happened in Kampung Bontoh and it was done with the night already falling. When the last group returned, some of the highlights mentioned included: Bobtail Squid, Giant Mantis, Pygmy Cuttlefish and also a Long-Armed Octopus! Another great critter dive.

As our last guests finished their showers, the bell rang for dinner. The meal was followed by a presentation about Manta Rays, mentioning general characteristics as well as some behavioral traits from these incredibly fascinating animals. It was the last activity of the evening and most opted to rest afterwards. By this time we were already on our way towards Komodo National Park, a world-renowned dive destination!

 

Saturday May 26th

The sun hasn’t yet rose in the sky when our vessel reached the central region of Komodo, where we spent the day. The first dive site chosen was Karang Makassar, named after the first explorers of the archipelago, the bugis from Makassar, south Sulawesi. Another known name of this site is Manta Point, due to the presence of numerous cleaning stations regularly visited by Manta alfredis. With the currents pushing from the south, our divers drifted along a relatively flat plateau while searching’ for the majestic animals. To our luck, at least three specimens were seen, with one passing by within reach of some of our guests. It was not all about the Mantas, though, since Eagle rays, Giant Sweetlips and, along the coral patches, congregations of damselfish and a few different species of angelfish could me mentioned as other highlights.

Our second dive of the day was nothing short of spectacular, in one of the regions most celebrated sites: Batu Bolong. The topography of the site is a wall absolutely covered in hard and soft coral, sponges and a few gorgonians as well where the biomass in terms of fish is remarkable, transforming the dive into what some of our divers called a ’fish soup’. Anthias, damsel, butterfly, parrot, angel, snapper, trigger and surgeonfish are teeming and among them active hunters like Blue-fin Trevally, Longface Emperor, Midnight Snapper and Napoleon Wrasse look for a meal. The climax of the dive, though, was reserved to the end, as a considerable school of Lunar Fusiliers was ambush by no less than thirty Giant Trevallys (and a Great Barracuda), providing a formidable show of movement as our groups ascent to shallow waters. Fantastic!

Close to Batu Bolong is located the island of Tatawa, where we did the following dive, in Tatawa Besar. The visibility, as it was for the two previous dives as well, was in between 25-30 meters/82-100 feet; nevertheless the currents this time were more of a factor. Due to the topography of the site, a long slope covered in beautiful coral formations, especially soft coral trees of all sorts of colors (purple, lime green and orange), all our divers had to do was to enjoy the ride along the slope while watching what passed by. Some of the highlights included Hawksbill Turtle, White tip and Blacktip Reef Shark, besides schooling surgeonfish and fusiliers. Towards the end of the drift, in a sheltered area, finally photography opportunities appeared to our divers in the form of sleepy Green Turtles, Leaf Scorpion fish (of white and yellow coloration) and critters like Porcelain and Orangutan Crabs.

Once Ody, the other dinghy driver, returned with the last group of divers, it was for our guests to relax in the sun deck enjoying another blessing sunny day as well as calm seas as we headed close to the island of Rinca, where the night dive happened. The site was the small bay of Waenilu and some of the marine life pointed out by the dive masters included Swimming Porcelain Crab, Spiny Devilfish, Pygmy Cuttlefish and a few different flatworms.

With all our guests on board and having showered, the bell rang for dinner. What followed was a short round of conversation before most guests opted to rest. The boat sleeps in the surroundings of Rinca tonight.

 

Sunday May 27th

With the first rays of yet another sunny day, our guests started the preparation not for the morning dive, instead for a supervised and guided trek in Rinca Island to observe the pre-historic Komodo dragons, endemic from this region of Indonesia. With information provided by the local guides, as well as plenty of photography opportunities with the animals, we all enjoyed the experience!

Next on the schedule was a stop in the small island of Tengah, where we dove the colorful reef of Tengah Kecil, a slope where the coral formations are dense and the small fish life are plentiful. As soon as our groups got in the water, a Hawksbill Turtle was seen surfacing for air, and as we continued along the sheltered part of the reef, critters like Bubble Coral Shrimp, Orangutan Crab, Ragged Scorpionfish, different species of blennies were pointed out by the dive masters. Besides that, an inquisitive Bumphead Parrotfish approached our groups, as we turned halfway through the dive towards shallow waters where the light and congregations of anthias, damsel and butterfly fish made quite a final impression on our divers.

Once all returned on board it was time to head towards Padar, the third of the main islands of the archipelago. Here, being closer to the southern part of the national park, the visibility was more limited (around 10 meters/33 feet), nevertheless, our dive in Secret Garden, a sloping reef that descends into a wall where a small, yet dense coral garden can be found, was filled with pleasant surprises. Our guests photographed different species of nudibranchs, including a Ceratossoma and a splendid purple nudi, flatworms, scorpion fish and also three kinds of lionfish.

Following the third dive we moved the vessel further south, towards the island of Nusa Kode, where we did the night dive and would spend the following day. The site for the night was Rhyno Torpedo, a black sand slope with a few coral patches where sponge growth is also plentiful and critters thrive. Some of the highlights included: Arrow and Decorator Crab, Sexy Shrimp, cuttlefish, inquisitive Blue-spotted Stingray that would use the divers’ lights to hunt and also a juvenile orange Painted Frogfish!

With the return of the ones who opted for the night dive, we gathered in the salon for dinner. After the meal, Urik gave a presentation about sharks, mentioning some general characteristics, as well as curious facts and threats to their existence due to overfishing practices. Following the presentation most guests headed to their staterooms for rest.

 

Monday May 28th

We woke up around Nusa Kode with the view, in the distance, of a few Komodo dragon sunbathing along one beach while wild monkeys could be seen on another (distant) neighbor sandy patch. During the morning we did two dives along the diverse and colorful reef known as Cannibal Rock

On this site plenty of both hard and soft coral, as well as anemones and sponges, thrive and host a considerable concentration of fish, including surgeon, rabbit, snappers, damsel, angel, butterfly, anthias and other smaller specimen. Those, on the other hand, would attract bigger predators like Blue-fin Trevally, Dogtooth Tuna, White tip Reef Shark and Giant Trevally. With some currents pushing (and visibility still around 10 meters/33 feet), there was considerable action to be observed on the split point. This action was not all, though, as the variety of nudibranchs, including Nembrotha, Pterolidae and others, and different critters (including a couple of sea apples) offered plenty of macro photography opportunities to our divers as well. Two great dives to start the day!

The afternoon dive, done before we started heading out of Nusa Kode bay, was a repeat of Rhyno Torpedo and its critter-filled black sand. Candy Crab, Sea Spider, Hawksbill Turtle, nudibranchs and another frogfish, this time a considerably big orange Painted specimen were some of the highlights. The currents were gentle as our groups drifted along the slope.

Back on board and with a hot ginger tea in hands, our guests had time to enjoy the sunset as we sailed towards southern Komodo, the next destination. The night dive happened in one of Lehok Sera white sandy beach, which hosts a wooden cargo wreck where plenty of critters can be seen, including juvenile sweet lips, juvenile cuttlefish, nudibranchs from different species and also, this time, a Marbled Ray. Great night dive!

When the last night diver had taken shower, we had dinner in the salon. After the meal Urik gave a briefing about the archipelago of Raja Ampat, mentioning some of its highlights underwater and also geo-cultural characteristics. After that most guests opted to go to bed. The boat sleeps in Telok Sera this evening.

 

Tuesday May 29th

Before sunrise we motored the vessel out of Telok Sera protected bay towards the very southern part of Komodo island, where we did the two morning dives in one of the archipelago most recognized cleaning stations for Manta Rays: Manta Alley. Both dives, done with mild currents and visibility in between 15-20 meters/50-66 feet were memorable; in fact, the second dive on the site was one for the ages. In between 12 to 15 Reef Manta Rays were seen swirling inside the station while Kleinen Butterfly fish, Moon and Cleaner Wrasses cleaned its skin, gills, wounds and teeth. Barrel rolls, close-up for photographs, you name it, and the mantas put it on display for our guests who surfaced in awe with the experience!

The second morning dive marked our last one in the southern region of the national park, as we motored back towards the central part, more specifically a location named Pink Beach, where we did the third dive. With visibility in between 5-15 meters/17-50 feet and very mild currents affecting the due to the fact that the beach is a sheltered area, the dive masters dedicated their efforts into looking for critters, like nudibranchs, including the genus Phillydia and Flabellina, flatworms and also quite a few Blue-spotted Stingrays, who presented a curious behavioral of standing completely still even as the photographers approached for pictures.

When the last groups returned on board, Maria, as usual, was waiting with samosas and honeydew juice as the snack. The rest of the afternoon was an opportunity to rest and enjoy a beautiful sunset before some of our guests started gearing up for the night dive, which happened on a bay neighbor to Pink Beach, across its sandy slope. Some of the highlights seen included: nudibranchs, Arrow and Decorator Crab (including one carrying an upside-down jellyfish as its shell), juvenile Spot fin Lionfish, pipefish and also a pair of Flamboyant Cuttlefish!

With the return of our night divers, the bell rang indicating dinner was served. After the meal the crew, led by captain Ervanto and chief officer Ferdik, played a few songs to our guests, which had the opportunity to enjoy some of the local Indonesian songs. Following that most guests stayed briefly around for a chat before heading to their staterooms for rest.

 

Wednesday May 30th

Before the sun rose over the horizon on yet another bright sunny day in Komodo, we started motoring the vessel towards the celebrated northern region of it, where we dove two of the most famous sites in the national: Crystal and Castle Rock. Both of them were seamounts where we currents played a factor into the dive, requiring a proper execution of the dive briefing given by Urik.

Along with the currents (and visibility of about 30 meters/100 feet) are nutrients, which wash over both reefs. Those accentuate both the coral growth and also resulting in action-packed dives where pelagic, like Dogtooth Tuna, Whitetip Reef Shark, Giant and Blue-fin Trevally can be seen actively chasing different species of fusiliers, trigger, butterfly, banner, surgeon and rabbit fish can be seen in quantities that are hard to describe, absolutely fantastic! Besides that, a few other highlights included a Spotted Eagle-Ray, Grey Reef Shark and also the astonishing amount of smaller reef fish like anthias and damselfish which all together justify the world-known fame of Komodo regarding the biomass possibly seen in some of the site distributed along the park.

During the afternoon we headed slightly south, where we dove along the bay of Batu Monco, a relaxing dive along a sandy slope with a few dense, colorful and varied coral patches. Visibility was still among 25-30 meters/82-100 feet and with no currents, it was a relaxing dive where our guests could photograph some of the critters pointed out by the dive masters, including Ringed Pipefish and Orangutan while cruising along a beautiful, vibrant reef.

The sun set on the horizon line, providing yet another spectacle to all the ones who enjoyed the sunset in the upper deck. With the night started the preparations for the night dive, a repeat of Batu Monco. Some of the critters spotted during this dive included Spiny Devilfish, Giant Mantis, Pygmy Squid, cuttlefish, Diamond Filefish and a couple of different species of nudibranchs.

Upon finishing the night dive, we gathered in the salon for our dinner. After the meal a presentation about barracudas was given, talking about some of their general characteristics as well as mentioning some of the myths regarding their behavior. Most guests followed the presentation with bedtime. The boat sleeps in the area tonight.

 

Thursday May 31st

With yet another beautiful sunrise in the Komodo National Park, Urik attended to a request from our guests who asked another dive in Batu Bolong, a site we dove a couple days ago that has a remarkable biomass and diversity. Granted the wish, it was another fantastic dive, with schooling fusiliers being chased by jacks and vibrant, colorful reef fishes populating a densely covered slope with hard and soft coral species. On top of that, visibility in between 25-30 meters/82-100 feet and a sunny morning didn’t hurt, bringing even more light to this great dive!

After the dive we started our way out of Komodo, first making a stop in Sebayur Kecil, a sandy slope filled with hard coral patches and plenty of xenia soft coral where critters can be found and different species of anthias, blennies and gobies make their presence as well. It was another absolutely relaxing dive, since the currents were a non-factor and visibility was, again, in between 25-30 meters/82-100 feet. Some of the critters seen included nudibranchs, like the genus Nembrotha, a white Crocodile Flathead and three Broadclub Cuttlefish, including a considerably big specimen, which wasn’t afraid to pose for pictures.

Further east, we arrived in another small island called Sebolah Kecil, with a similar topography to the previous, with the exception of a beautiful extension of the reef where plenty of gorgonians, soft coral and fish like damsel, butterfly and angel hover around. Critters were found along the garden, including jaw fish, flatworms and nudibranchs. On top of that, as we were heading back towards the slope, passing by a channel dominated by garden eel, a curious, inquisitive juvenile Spotted Eagle-Ray cruises by as if saying ’hello’!

Upon the return of the last divers, we started motoring the vessel towards east still, in the direction of Pulau Raja. Due to the distance to be covered this evening, we didn’t have a night dive and dinner happened slightly earlier. After the meal, most guests stayed around chatting with some members of the crew before heading to bed.

 

Friday June 1st

Earlier than expected we approached Pulau Raja, having the opportunity to literally sail into the sunrise, which happened along the ocean horizon. The first dive happened in the northern side of this volcanic island, in a site known as Raja I, an extending ridge with a few coral heads and plenty of large barrel sponges. A few critters were pointed out by the dive masters crawling along the reef, including Tasseled Scorpion fish, head shield slugs, Day Octopus, Kraited Banded Sea Snake and a few nudibranchs. Some of our divers also had the luck to see both a Spanish mackerel and a White tip Reef Shark passing on the blue.

Following the dive in Raja I, we headed east where we dove a place named Tables, a 30 meters/100 feet deep wall where the sponges hanging from the overhangs themselves already made plenty of wide-angle photography opportunities. Also in sight were some gorgonians, including a Melithea Ochracea, where the dive masters found a red color variation of the Denise Pygmy Seahorse, quite a pleasant surprise to our guests! It was not all, and as we approached shallow waters the amount of smaller reef fish increased and a few others critters, like a Boxer Crab, were pointed out.

The afternoon dive happened in the southern part of Raja, in a site known as Raja II, a mostly shallow dive where our groups drifted along a hard coral plateau looking for critters and enjoying the conditions themselves. The sun, as it was for the whole day, was very bright in the sky and offered plenty of light that, coupled with 30+-meters/100+ feet visibility created excellent diving conditions (as it was on the previous two dives as well). As for the highlights seen, Dogtooth Tuna, a considerably big sea slug, and a few beautiful Glassy Sweeper concentrations were some of the highlights.

The last dive of the day happened around sunset time, slightly earlier, due to our guests’ request. It was a repeat of the shallow dive in Raja II and some of the highlights seen included: Pygmy Cuttlefish, a juvenile frogfish and plenty of Spiny Lobsters gathered together.

With the return of our divers and after those had showered, dinner was served. After the meal Urik explained the logistics of our last day of diving before introducing a presentation about Sea Turtles. Afterwards most guests opted to rest for our last full day together

 

Saturday June 2nd

Along with another sunny morning, we arrived in the bay of Maumere, where we did our two last dives. The first one was done in the corner of the bay, in Shark Point and its wall where plenty of small reef fish like damsel and anthias hover on top of hard coral bommies and barrel sponges. On top of that, the name of the site was justified, since at one point of the dive, up to five Black tip Reef Shark were seen in a restricted area, all this along a juvenile Spotted Eagle-Ray and a Mobula Ray. As for the macro lovers, one of the highlights that could be mentioned is the sight of an Ornate Ghost Pipefish.

The following dive was a fast drift along The Garden and its colorful coral reef. As our divers passed by the sloping reef, Hawksbill Turtle, schooling fusiliers and surgeonfish, a few nudibranchs and other colorful reef fish could be seen. It was an active way to end a fantastic trip that went through some of Indonesia finest diving spots. Excellent!

When our groups returned from the dive, the crew immediately took care of rinsing and hanging everyones dive equipment while our guests had lunch. After the meal Urik shared the video he made with underwater highlights of the week and some footage of moments around the boat and on land as well. What followed was the opening of the boutique before the rest of the afternoon was given for rest.

At the scheduled time, we gathered in the sun deck for the farewell party. It was an opportunity for the crew altogether to thank the visit from our guests and play a few more songs to all. It was also the time for awards and milestones to be recognized.

Karen (800th) and Tom (400th) completed important milestones during this trip and received applause.

As for the Aggressor Iron Divers of this 11-day trip, Karen and Vladimir were the ones who completed all the dives available during the cruise. Cheers to both!

Our guests had time to enjoy the sunset before the bell rang for an earlier dinner. Following dessert Urik explained the checkout procedures and proceeded with a slideshow composed by some of the pictures taken by our guests both underwater and out of it. This enabled a moment to start sharing some positives memories from our time together. Once it was over, a few guests stayed around chatting while others opted to rest ahead of their long journey back home.

 

 

Sunday June 3rd

At the scheduled time the crew was waiting to bid their farewells to this fun, kind group of guests and wish all a safe journey back home. Thank you for visiting us and we hope to see you again aboard the Raja Ampat Aggressor. Happy bubbles!