Where to start, where to start, where to start. It’s difficult to write a concise summation of a sixteen day diving trip through the worlds richest oceans where every location holds unbelievable encounters. Do I start with the rich marine life and expansive un touched reefs of the Banda Sea, the close encounters with giant scalloped hammerhead sharks, the whale sharks that drifted over the top of me, or the repeated encounters with the worlds most illusive whale as it voraciously scooped up plankton next to Mermaid II?
Alright, so as you can see it was a most incredible trip full of once in a lifetime moments. We literally had everything that could have been expected on this this crossing trip from Maumere, through the Banda Sea and into Raja Ampat. Hands down though, the most unexpected and ultimate highlight of the trip was the Omura’s whales that bombarded us every surface interval in Misool, Raja Ampat.
These Omura’s whales are the least known about of all the whales and they seemed to be following us as we moved about Raja’s southern chain of islands. They would surface just meters away from the boat, alerting everyone on board of their presence with the distinctive whale breath, then dive just below the surface only to appear seconds later in a churning pool of white water. What we discovered was that they were feeding! From the perspective of the drone we could see them charging through the water, much faster than you would expect a twelve meter animal to be able to do so, then suddenly open their gaping mouth and scooping up gallons and gallons of plankton rich water. With their mouth and belly inflated, they looked more like a giant puffer fish than a member of the cetacean family.
No matter how many hammerheads, rhinopias, or mantas you see on a trip like this, none of them can compare to being next to several twelve meter leviathan with a mouth like a fishing trawler, as it repeatedly feeds.
Mermaid II Maumere-Alor-Banda Sea-Raja Ampat
Nov 16-Dec 1, 2016
by Alex Lindbloom