Mermaid II, December 31, 2018 – January 8, 2019

Beautiful conditions, with clear skies and blue water, made for an excellent trip here in wonderland Raja Ampat! We had massive schools of fish on all divesites, enjoyed some of the world’s healthiest corals and also took the chance to do a scenic lagoon tour, climb up to an iconic viewpoint and visit one of the beaches to snorkel with baby Blacktip Sharks.

Starting in Misool, south Raja Ampat, already on the first dive we found ourselves swimming with fierce-looking Barracudas, friendly (though maybe not the smartest) Batfish and laid-back Turtles. Guests with cameras (i.e. every one of them) almost ran out of memory and/or battery before Mermaid’s eagle-eyed divemasters tracked down three different species of Pygmy Seahorses. Most popular seemed to be the “Santa Claus” Pygmy, endemic to this area.

We also saw our first Manta Rays here in the south (with more coming up later in the trip!). Impressive indeed, with an all black specimen staying with us for the entire dive. Serious photo ops! Heading north, we first went to the Penemu area. A beautiful drift dive through the Krou Channel followed a cracking dive at legendary Melissa’s Garden. Tons of colourful little fish as well as Wobbegong Sharks, more Blacktip Sharks (this time the fully grown variety) and several Hawksbill Turtles happy to pose for the photographers (they know their angles here in Raja!).

At the end of this trip we got very lucky, and saw congregating Manta Rays near one of the sandbanks. More than 25 of these graceful giants were gathering at the surface, playing in the current. Mindblowing!