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Raja Ampat Take – Two…

Raja Ampat Take – Two

Indonesia---Raja-AmpatOur second trip of the two-part photography workshop with Alex Mustard and I don’t think I have ever seen so many returning guests with such big smiles on their faces and looking soooooooo happy to be back onboard the Indo Siren, especially after only being off the boat for less than 24hours! When the 5 new guests were aboard and settled in we received our port clearance and then it was time to head back down to the beautiful area of Daram.
Andiamo was a favourite for our guests on the last trip and did not disappoint this time either. We jumped twice on this dive site as it has so much to offer. There is, of course the pinnacles but also the beautiful topography of the two islands themselves…. Spectacular and very difficult to get the divers out of the water! We then hopped in at the Candy Store where the soft corals were all out and the shallows were just beautiful! Some divers didn’t even go below 6m the whole dive! It was then time to cruise down to Yillet Kecil for our first night dive of the trip.

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Photographing Raja Ampat

Photographing Raja Ampat…

groupThis is a very special trip for me as well as our guests in so many ways! It’s been a year since I have been on the Indo Siren and I get to spend my time with Alex Mustard and his fabulous guests diving some of the best sites in the world! Or am I biased?! I don’t think I have ever met anyone who would disagree! Raja Ampat is special and offers so many opportunities for our Photography workshop. As we were doing back to back trips with eleven of our guests we changed things up a little and on this first trip we literally travelled from the very south of Misool all the way up to the Equator where we embarked on a traditional ceremony for all those “Slimy Polywogs” that had not yet crossed the equator by boat …. More on that later!

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Stunning Corals and Huge Fish Schools

Stunning Corals and Huge Fish Schools

group-raja-mapat-on-indo-sirenThird trip into the Raja Ampat season and we had a great mix of guests from Colorado, USA as well as Singapore and Hong Kong, Belgium and Canada and last but not least Switzerland! When all guest settled on board we went for our big boat briefing as well as our muster drill. Late at night the captain pulled up anchor and the Indo Siren started her cruise in direction Batanta Island and after a smooth crossing we arrived as planned at 6am, just in time for our first beautiful sunrise. Batanta Island is pure muck diving, so after the big dive briefing all guests got ready for their check dive at “Algae Patch”; black sand and a gentle sloping reef with 20 different types of algae and sea grass, phenomenal! Nudibranchs where ever you look, wonderpus, devil scorpion fish, lion fish, emperor shrimps, porcelain crabs and cleaner shrimps on all kinds of soft coral just an amazing start. We did two more dives in Batanta Island “Happy Ending” and “Reflection”, before taking the direction down south to the famous Misool Area. 13 hours smooth travel on an almost flat sea!

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Sharks , Mantas, and Critters awaited us…

Sharks , Mantas, and Critters awaited us…

colorful critterAfter a night in Jakarta divers from Australia arrived in Sorong to board the Indo Siren, with briefings, paperwork and breakfast out of the way we embarked on our latest adventure in Raja Ampat. Leaving the port we cruised for just over an hour to make our check out dive at Green Lighthouse, everybody was really happy to be in the water once again and eagerly anticipating the next diving days of this 10-night liveaboard safari.

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Royal Welcome Back to the Four Kings

Anemone FishRoyal Welcome Back to the Four Kings

For our first trip of the season at Raja Ampat, it was a real pleasure and an honour to welcome a team of 16 divers lead by Gerald Nowak, photography contributor to “Tauchen” diving magazine. Leaving the port of Sorong late at night, we arrived at the beautiful island of Batanta for our first 3 dives of this Indo Siren Liveaboard Safari. We had the opportunity to spot different crabs, lobsters, nudis and shrimps but also trevally and moray eels, in this very calm muck diving environment.
Continuing south, to Daram near the island of Misool, our 3 day dives were along walls full of impressive sea fans and beautiful black coral. The attraction of the day was a majestic wobbegong shark resting under a rock. Curious batfish, barramundi, school of fusilliers were also our diving companions; meanwhile 6 dolphins were companions to the snorkelers. It was the wobbegong shark’s day as we found another one during the night dive.

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Discovering the Banda Sea

Discovering the Banda Sea

pygmy-sea-horseOur 100% Australian group from Dive Adventures arrived on the Indo Siren liveaboard on the afternoon of Oct 28. After introducing the yacht, its crew and the safety procedures, we just had to set up our diving gear and photo equipment before dinner. Late in the evening, we left Maumere on Flores Island for an exciting crossing trip which will bring us to Sorong on Irian Jaya in 15 days. We made our check out dive in the warm and clear water of Tanjung Gedong. We already spotted various marine life from Orang-utan crab to dogtooth tuna. Then we dived twice on the beautiful Serbete Wall eastbound and westbound. A strong tropical shower surprised us and our group preferred to relax onboard rather than diving at night.

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whale shark, mantas and whales in Komodo

whale shark, mantas and whales in Komodo

Group-on-Indo-SirenOn the second of October we welcomed aboard the Indo Siren our big group of German divers completed by our Chinese couple. After a warm welcome with some briefings so everybody felt safe and comfortable we set off to our first dive site; “The unusual suspect”. A dive here along the sandy bottom gave enough time to adjust the diving gear for the whole trip and of course to spot some small critters in many different “nudis”. For our next dive we departed early morning for Sangeang Island , this is a volcanic island so diving in black sand again and looking for more critters on Bonto and Techno Reef. Again nudis, octopus, leaf fish, crocodile fish, boxer shrimps and ghost pipefish! At the end of the dive day we tested our emergency recall system and practiced with the deco tank to ensure everyone was ready for the likely currents ahead. Our night dive was a delight of odd shaped critters including lion fish ,snake eels and star gazers and open surfacing the stars in the sky were so clear on this cloudless night – meanwhile, having ordered our drinks beforehand we were assured a warm hot chocolate or cold beer at the very first step back onto the boat. Of course with a nice warmed towel over our shoulders too!!! A great start to our 10-night trip in Komodo.

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Spectacular diving once again in Indonesia

Spectacular diving once again in Indonesia

Komodo-by-Arron-Wong-114The 4 dives of our first day of this liveaboard safari in Komodo were as diversified as our group of 6 nationalities from 4 continents! Black sand, for our 2 morning dives at Sangeang Island where we spotted frog fish, leaf fish, as well as the bubbles rising out of sandy bottom at the famous “Hot Rocks”. Then no more black sand, but white sand for our afternoon and night dives at Banta Island. Beautiful hard and soft corals with plenty of small and large marine life which included nudis, crabs, shrimps, sea snakes, sting ray, flat head fish and more.

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Return to Komodo

Return to Komodo

komodo DiversWith our very cosmopolitan group from Australia, Brazil, Germany, Korea, Malta, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the USA (+ a crew of 5 nationalities), we headed to the volcanic island of Sangeang for our first 4 dives where the sandy bottom is black and marine life consists of octopus, garden eels, stingray, various types of nudibranch. Our Indo Siren liveaboard safari was well underway and already delighting photographers and non-photographers alike.A 6 hour boat ride brought us to the North part of Komodo Island, “Coral Garden ” offered us its wonderful landscape of white sand and coral bommies, beautifully illuminated by early morning sun. Then it was time for more action with 2 drift dives. “Shotgun” was even for some divers the best site they have ever dived: baby manta, turtle, leaf fish, garden eels, sweetlips, octopus…. and as a bonus, the incredible, but funny, washing machine effect.

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Phi Siren in Indonesia

Phi Siren In Indonesia

GNO pygmyFor our 10-night cruise to Komodo National Park we welcomed our divers from the U.S.A, Spain, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Poland and Sweden, who all got comfortably settled on board as we sailed a short distance to the mouth of Bima Bay to anchor for the night, talk about dive procedures, enjoy a nice meal together and begin to get to know one another. The anchor was raised at 3 am to sail to Sangeang Island for our day of diving the black sand at Bonto Reef, Techno Reef, and Estuary. Once again this black sandy bottom diving area proved to be a great way to get the divers sorted with their buoyancy and for the crew to practice the decompression dive drill and the emergency recall device. Many, many species of Nudis were seen and when we looked up some of the more rare finds in the id books, we found several to be ‘undescribed’. The shrimp species were too numerous to name and there were many octopus and plenty of colourful reef fish. At Techno we found the Hippocampus Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorses at both 18m and 26m for a total count of 8! It was a great encounter for the photographers as well as the newer divers that have never seen these tiny sea creatures before. A lazy, relaxing afternoon was had by the guests as we motored towards our night dive location on Gilli Banta Island at Circus where divers were treated to pygmy cuttlefish, cuttlefish, and a large assortment of different crabs and lobsters as well as the Lionfish that were out hunting for the evening. During dinner we made a slow calm crossing to spend our night in a bay off Komodo Island in the National Park.

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