It’s that time of year again where Mermaid II pulls anchor and embarks on one of its famous Biodiversity Specials where we dive our way from Raja Ampat, though the Banda Sea and into Ambon’s critter dense waters. There is no trip anywhere else in the world where you can experience an onslaught of reef and coral species as these waters are the world’s most biodiverse!
The first part of the trip is spent exploring Raja’s highlights such as the pinnacles where oceanic and reef mantas come together to perform their underwater acrobatics. The mangroves provided our guests with a truly unique experience of diving in the shallow mangroves where the reef and sky seem to be stitched together by the arching mangrove roots. Moving south into Raja’s southern set of islands, Misool, we encounters walls of batfish and glided over fields of brilliant soft coral.
Our first stop after leaving Raja Ampat is a small isolated island named Koon which has a very fishy reputation as it’s been found to have Eastern Indonesia’s largest population of breeding fish. Barracudas, jack fish, snappers, and batfish school here in record numbers which make for some pretty pretty epic diving!
Leaving Koon we found ourselves in in the fabled Banda Sea with its reefs as rich as the area’s history. Manuk, or as we like to call it, Snake Island, is a remote and semi-dormant volcano where hundreds of sea snakes congregate along with some larger pelagic like hammerhead sharks and monstrous tuna. Even though it’s not the ‘hammer season’ which runs from September November I still found myself staring at the silhouette of a three metre scalloped hammerhead shark.
After spending several days drifting along the walls and reef of the Banda Islands we entered one of the critter capitals of the world, Ambon. Here we embarked on some world class muck dives sifting through the rich substrate for frogfish, sea horses, nudibranchs, and every macro enthusiasts favourite – the rhinopias.
It’s an absolute thrill to witness all of the ocean’s splendour and beauty in one epic trip aboard Mermaid II!
Mermaid II Raja Ampat – Banda Sea – Ambon Cruise
Feb 14-25, 2017