What a great way to start 2016!
The Indo Siren Liveaboard was ready to start 2016 diving in Raja Ampat with a lovely group of Dutch divers. After setting the equipments and the mandatory life jacket drill and safety briefings, we lifted anchor and Captains Hasbia and Nyoman started our cruise south to the “Kingdom” of Missol. Chefs Andri and Fendi prepared a lovely dinner whilst the Indo Siren cruised through the calm sea.
Our first day of diving started in the Daram area with its dives sites Candy Store, Andiamo and Living Colors, all our photographers were happy filling their memory cards with pictures of schooling fusiliers, bumphead parrotfish, trevallies, barracudas, wobbegong and of course a large oceanic Manta at “Andiamo”. After the afternoon dive we headed further west towards Missol and arrived in time in Yellit for the first night dive of this cruise where we spotted a variety of crabs, shrimps and nudi branches.
After a good night sleep we woke up very close to our first dive site for the day, “Yellit Kecil”. This picturesque little island is surrounded by a small coral plateau and offers large gorgonian fans and bushes of black coral. Sighting here include denise pygmy seahorse, schooling bat fish and fusiliers, barracudas and nembrotha nudi branches. A reef octopus joined the divers for their safety stop and showed off his skills. Next up was the famous “Boo Window” and with a group of photographers these site is always something special. Dive buddies been modelling in the window to offer the perfect picture for the photographers. After take the scenic shot we dove along the beautiful coral reef surrounded by millions of fusiliers and hunting trevallies. A bumphead parrot fish had his early lunch on the shallow plateau whilst we also spotted a hawksbill turtle and ornate ghost pipefish. For the night we headed back to where we started the day and everybody came back smiling after seeing hairy shrimp, crocodile fish and other creatures of the night.
We started a few minutes earlier today to be in time on one the best sites around here, “Magic Mountain”. A medium to strong current attracted a large amount of fish including grey reef and white tip reef shark; however the main attraction was a huge oceanic manta that got cleaned at the edge of the reef. The second dive of the dive was at “Nudi Rock”, named after the shape of the small Island. Stunning soft corals and schooling fish made also this dive amazing. One group was lucky and saw an oceanic manta cruising around the small pinnacle next to the reef. We moved further west to the Wayanbaran Area where we stayed the next two days. “Barracuda Rock” was our dive spot for the afternoon and night with millions of small baitfish covering the reef and larger predators like giant and blue fin trevally hunting them. The current was quite strong the following morning for our first dive at “Wedding Cake”, but nether then less we enjoyed the colorful reef and a large variety of reef fish. After the big breakfast we went to “Gorgonian Passage” with its very large sea fans and beautiful overhangs. A medium current gave us a good “push” to cover the whole passage whilst enjoying the stunning large gorgonian fans. We moved east to “Whalerock” for our afternoon dive with more schooling fusiliers, trevallies and smaller creatures like pygmy seahorse. The Indo Siren anchored overnight in a beautiful bay surrounded by small volcanic islands and we choose “Potato Rock” for the night dive where our eagle eyed guides spotted pygmy seahorses and different crabs.
We woke up for our last day in Misool to a grey and rainy sky. However after our first dive the sky cleared up and the sun came out. Just in time for one of my favorites, “Anti Chovey”, what a great dive we had with manta ray and a group of 6 mobula rays hunting in a large school of anchovies whilst a small group of 3 devil rays cruised above the sea floor. Our final dive in Misool was at “Two Three Island” with again an amazing amount of fusiliers and silversides. A small group of bumphead parrotfish had a late lunch on the reef top and a wobbegong shark rested out in the open so that we could have a look at the whole animal. We started our long crossing back up to the Dampiers Strait right after the third dive and Captain Hasbia and his crew made sure we arrived in time the next morning.
“Manta sandy”, that’s the name for one of the famous cleaning stations in the Dampier Strait. When we arrived at the dive site we could see several mantas feeding at the surface, but unfortunately we did not see any in the cleaning station until the 60 min of our dive. Lucky for dinghy 3 (sometimes it pays off to be in the last dinghy) that they had enough air and dive time left to enjoy 5 mantas which come to the cleaning station after most of the other divers left already. The current was still strong on our second dive at ”Lalosi”, which means Fusilier in Bahasa. Millions of glassfish covered this reef and never ending schools of Fusiliers cruised by, a wobbegong shark was sleeping on top of a cabbage coral whilst three baby white tip sharks rested under a large table coral. The highlight of the dive was the walking shark, well spotted Ingrid! The afternoon and night dive was reserved for the jetty at Aerborek. What a treat, we spotted blue ring octopus, walking shark, crocodile fish, harlequin shrimp and giant clams. Nearly everybody went for the night dive at the jetty and big smiles all around when the divers returned.
We left our mooring at 6 am and cruised west across a flat calm sea towards Yangefo, our place for today. Very little current was just excellent for “Citrus Ridge”, we could spend most of the dive directly on the ridge enjoying the amazing soft corals. During the dive we spotted eagle rays, black tip reef shark, barracudas and more. Rob focused his dive on the mangroves nearby to get some great pictures of the juvenile fish hanging out there. After three more dives and plenty of mangrove pictures we headed east across the Dampier Strait to our next destination Mioskon.
The final full diving day presented quite some challenges with strong current on “Sardines, “Blue Magic” and “Mioskon”, but great fish life including mantas, black tip reef shark, wobbegong shark and giant trevally rewarded us for the hard work. The crew raised the sails in the afternoon and even some dolphins came by to have a look. The night dive was really great with different types of pygmy seahorses, frogfish and walking shark.
The final day started with a leisurely dive at Mioskon to look for the pygmies we spotted during the night and then we went to Cape Kri for some larger fish action. After this dive we said our good bye to Ingrid and Jerome who will continue their holidays in Raja Ampat whilst the Indo Siren started her cruise back to Sorong. Chefs Andri and Fendi prepared a tasty barbeque in the evening and everybody started making plans for the next holiday.
Terima Kasih from all of us