It’s that time of year again, where the final trip for the Raja Ampat season is finished and we must make The Crossing through the Banda Sea and into Komodo. Before I get ahead of myself though I’d just like to reflect back to my five most favorite moments or encounters of this past Raja season.
Raja Ampat is quite literally the Kingdom of Coral, and diving among it’s stunning underwater topography blanketed in a riot of corals, ranging from giant sea fans, vast hard coral reefs, and vibrant colonies of soft coral is a breathtaking experience in itself!
The mangroves in Raja have to be one of the most amazing and unique sites to dive. Light pierces though the aquatic forest above and cuts through the glassy water creating one of the most surreal visual experiences you’re likely to have underwater. The coral reef casts a perfect reflection onto the surface as archer fish weave in and out of the finger like roots of the mangroves. If you’re a photographer you couldn’t ask for a better combination of subjects.
Throughout the season, Mermaid II was very lucky with the mantas of both species. On every trip, and on multiple dive sites and even some surface intervals, we encountered oceanic mantas (the big ones) and reef mantas doing what they do best, being majestical. Yes, I realize majestical is not a real word but it should be, and reserved solely for describing manta rays.
Easily one the most amazing creatures you could ever find is found quite regularly on the night dives in Raja Ampat. The blue ring octopus is a small octopus with iridescent blue rings all over it’s body. They are highly inquisitive and appear to dance across the reef which can keep you occupied for the entire dive.
For the first month or so of the season we had some epic mobula ray and anchovy action. For a short time, the anchovies swarm select dive sites in Misool, which in turn brings around the predators like mobula rays. There were times when the water would go dark and we would find ourselves in frenzied school of anchovies being hunted by anywhere from five to twenty mobula rays.
Mermaid II, Diving Cruise at Raja Ampat
April 16 – 24, 2018