This trip from Ambon to Raja Ampat started off very well indeed with finding Ghost Pipefish, Seahorses, Zebra Crabs and Coleman Shrimps plus two super rare Rhinopias (a.k.a. Weedy Scorpionfish). And that’s just at the check-dive!! (Suggestions were made accordingly to just do check-dives for the rest of the trip J).
We also played with thousands of Scads under a jetty and did a beautiful cave dive before reaching the crystal clear waters of the Banda Islands.
Eagle Rays, Bumphead Parrotfish, swarms of Pyramide Butterflyfish and even a Mobula Ray getting cleaned on top of an underwater pinnacle were only some of the sightings here.
After a land visit to Banda Neira and the Fort Belgica, we headed out to a small volcano in the middle of the Banda Sea – Manuk. Great diving here, with hundreds of Seasnakes and big schools of fish. In the shallows there’s evidence of the not-quite-dead-yet volcano: bubbles from warm rocks creating a very special scenario (great wide-angle opportunities!).
At the famous fish congregation island of Koon we got lucky and had a Leopard Shark, rare in this area. Didn’t seem to mind the divers too much, but eventually took off into the blue with a flick of its long tail. Lots of Big-eyed Trevallies, Chevron Barracudas, Grey Snappers, Batfish and Pompanos as well as a good selection of smaller critters like Pygmy Seahorses, Ghost Pipefish and Leaf Scorpionfish.
Arriving in Raja Ampat we were greeted by dense fishlife and seriously beautiful corals! Also being an epicentrum for Pygmy Seahorses the only trouble was whether to keep the wide-angle lens on or switch to macro.
Some cracking nightdives as well, with Blue-ringed Octopus, Pegasusfish, Seahorses and my personal favourite: the Walking Shark!
One of the highlights here was a seamount dive where we had lots of Grey Reef Sharks, hunting Giant Trevallies, inquisitive Napoleons and a couple of Manta Rays using the services of little Cleaner Wrasses at the coral bommies.
A scenic lagoon tour and a dive in the blue-water mangroves took us to our last day in the Dampier Strait, central Raja Ampat. Free-swimming Wobbegongs, lots of fish, more sharks and a few tiny Pontohi Pygmy Seahorses all got their 15 seconds of fame before it was time for us to relax onboard and start working with all photos and videos from this very productive trip.
Ambon – Banda Sea – Raja Ampat
March 17-28, 2018