Liveaboard diving Ambon to Sorong

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Liveaboard Diving from Ambon to Sorong

mandarin newThirsting for adventure our guests boarded the SY Mandarin Siren, their home for the next 14 nights. They met their adoptive family, the friendly and attentive boat and dive crew, and made themselves comfortable. We started our journey sifting through the mucky slopes of Ambon Bay looking for weird and wonderful critters. Right off the bat we were able to knock an item off of Phyllis and Ken’s wishlist: the elusive and coveted Ambon scorpion fish. We discovered not one but 3 of these petite hairy monsters.



dsc 5114The first half of our journey would have us sailing and diving through the Banda Sea. Making our way east along the Lease Islands, we were treated to beautiful underwater scenery including caves, walls and vast coral gardens home to an amazing variety of aquatic life – so much that we could not hope to photograph or identify it all. Choosing between wide angle and macro lenses is a difficult feat when a single dive begins with pygmy seahorses, has a hammerhead shark swim by mid dive and ends with a wonderfully tinted leaf scorpionfish. The evenings were no less exciting, highlighted with a visit to the Rahasia Discotheque – a rocking night dive we explored together for the first time. Join us next time to be part of the ‘secret’ club to see juvenile pinnate batfish and the electric disco clam. Juergen dancing underwater not guaranteed.

pygmy-kees2Arriving at the Banda Islands we were treated to refreshing rain showers in the form of torrential downpours. These short-lived bursts of nature’s raw cycling of water would follow us throughout the rest of the journey as we made our way north to Raja Ampat. Never lasting more than 1 dive, we were able to put into perspective the hot and steamy weather that inevitably followed. Rounding the southeastern tip of Ceram we headed north to the island of Misool, the southernmost King of Raja Ampat. Our first dive on the eastern ridge of Boo Island was nothing less than spectacular – pygmies, pygmies and more pygmy seahorses. The visibility left a little to be desired but the characteristic fishiness of these protected waters was impossible to overlook. Our subsequent dives in the area would present beautiful sea fan upon sea fan for us to search like addicts for more delicate pygmies hiding in their branches where we also found plenty of colourful allied cowries.

wobbegongThe landscape above water was equally majestic as the steep limestone walls underwater as the sheer rock faces of the islands around Farondi towering above us plunged into the water. The nearby collection of rocks called 3 Sisters brought a plethora of nudibranchs to add to our already large repertoire as we carefully swam around the incredibly long and densely packed sea whips covering the slope. Our final leg of our journey brought us many miles to the North where we explored around the southern coast of Gam. The predominantly hard coral slopes with sandy bottoms around Yanggefo provided plenty of action including schools of barracudas, jacks, trevallies and even Spanish mackerel, which we would see repeatedly over the next couple of days as we continued further East. Naturally the wobbegong sharks were much welcome sight and they were so kind as to pose peacefully for our photographers.

reefsceneThe clearest waters during the trip were found at the seamounts and pinnacles between Cape Kri and Mioskon. At Sardine Reef we descended to water so clear the colours of the fish almost seemed unreal. Sharks and other predators of the reef darted around the thick schools of reef fish, keeping their prey vigilant. At Mioskon the visibility was greatly reduced but apparently this also diminished any inhibitions the fish might have for us divers as we were able to get incredibly close to the schooling sweetlips and snappers. It was about this time that the theory sprouted that the healthy and robust bumphead parrotfish were perhaps responsible for all the particles in the water as they relieved themselves of vast quantities of … sand. After swimming past ridiculously dense and varied congregations fish we ended the dive marveling at a pair of Pontohi pygmy seahorses.

manta1At the end of another day in these rich waters we headed over to Airborek for our night dive at the jetty where we were treated to impressively large giant clams and tons of nudibranchs such as the tiny Dota sp. The grand finale to our epic adventure from Ambon to Raja Ampat culminated in close encounters with Manta Rays. Spanning a good 3-4m from fin tip to fin tip these gentle giants swooped over our heads again and again until we finally ran out of air and had to surface. Truly a fitting conclusion to our fabulous voyage. From the crew of the Mandarin Siren we thank our kind and enthusiastic guests for helping us make this a trip to remember for a lifetime.



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