Mantas! Raja Ampat

The last stop on our trip was Dampier Strait where a place called Blue Magic really lived up to its name.

You don’t often here complaints of too many fish on a diving trip but sometimes the little fish would obscure the action! There were thousands of them.

As I was starting to go up for my safety stop these two mantas were swimming around and around next to me at 7m. It was really magical.

I have some video, Mantas are much more impressive when you see them moving but I need to process it so stay tuned for more updates 🙂

Mangroves, Raja Ampat

Our next stop of our little tour of Raja Ampat was in the area of Yanggefo where there are mangroves. We dived a dive site called Citrus Ridge and snorkelled up to the mangroves. They weren’t as pretty as the blue water mangroves we saw last time but we didnt fancy getting eaten by the crocodiles!

Earlier in the trip some of the group had snorkelled out to take split shots and I didn’t go because I was told I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere with such a small dome (about 3.5″ mini dome). Since I’m someone who likes to try things for herself I swam off to try under-over (half in and half out of the water) shots with my tiny camera. I came up with the image above which everyone was really surprised by.

Citrus Ridge is a divesite full of cool critters. We found this jawfish with eggs sitting in his hole on the sea floor. And this woebegone shark hiding under a coral shelf, chockfull of colourful soft corals.

The mangroves are a nursery for all manor of juvenile fish. We even saw a couple of baby reef sharks cruising back and forth.

These little stripy fish are called Archer fish because they spit water up into the trees to knock down inspects into the water to eat.

Arborek Jetty, Raja Ampat

Following the Algae Patch, the next place in Raja Ampat we visited was the area of Mansuar. Here we visited Aerborek Jetty. Under the jetty was a very cute little ball of fish which we had great fun photographing.

When we surfaced we saw a double rainbow! The ship pulling away here is a conservation boat which travels the area teaching the local children about conserving the area for the future.

At one point the sea above me suddenly went dark, looking up I saw the most amount of fish I’ve ever seen in one place!

On the jetty beams soft coral and fans have started to grow. Its a really beautiful area.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little slice of Raja Ampat. Please stay tuned, next up the Mangroves….

Algae Patch, Raja Ampat

Following on from Thursday post about Misool, we continued our journey in Raja Ampat stopping off for a whole day on a muck dive site called the Algae patch. Here we saw many things hiding in the sand and algae. We even saw a baby woebegone shark.

We saw a different types of ghost pipefish – here is the ornate and the robust types. The robust have such great camouflage they look like strips of seaweed twisting in the current.

You’ll have to excuse this video. It’s an experiment with the video mode for the Olympus OMD EM5. I think I had it on all the wrong settings. The cyan colour cast was very horrible (so I desaturated it to black and white) and as you can see I had no stabilisation. However it is very short (only 40 seconds) and theres a surprise about 20 secs in.

feel free to watch the video on vimeo here.

Here are some of the stars of the show…

And last but not least a little crinoid crab clutching some eggs. We saw plenty of these in Bali a few months ago but none with Eggs.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little recap of the Algae Patch. Stayed tuned for more from Raja Ampat coming up…

Misool, first stop in Raja Ampat

The area of Raja Ampat boasts the highest level of marine biodiversity on the planet. Our first stop as we headed out from Sorong was to the south, the area of Misool. Here we spent several days diving the following spectacular dive sites:

Kalig Wall, Nudi Rock, Boo East, Boo Windows, Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, Wayil Island, Yilliet Kecil, Magic Mountain, Boo West, Baby Rock.
Here we saw many amazing critters from Skeleton Shrimp and Pygmy Sea horses, to sea snakes, to sea fans that grow bigger than a person.

This tiny pygmy squid we saw on a night dive was particularly adorable!

Each morning and evening we were treated to beautiful skies. I tried to capture them with my iPhone in panorama mode:

At the Boo Windows dive site there was a school of very friendly Batfish. I happened to have a macro lens on so I took this portrait

The camouflage of the critters is amazing sometimes, see if you can spot the pygmy seahorse in the photo below:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. There will be more to come from Raja Ampat in the following days…

Back from Raja Ampat

We spent the last two weeks in Indonesia sailing around on Indo Siren liveaboard for Alex Mustard’s latest workshop. Unfortunately Emirates airlines screwed up and we didn’t get our luggage until the day we were heading home! I’d like to thank everyone on the trip who lent us stuff to allow us to still have a good time, especially Alex who allowed me the use of his spare camera so all my photos this time around are from the Olympus OMD EM5 and of course my trusty iPhone.

Below is a little google map showing the areas we visited, click the little blue icons on the map for more info about each section. Over the next week or so I’ll dig out the photos and videos for you all 🙂 The reefs there are amazing with sometimes challenging conditions (I bought my first reef hook) but chocked full of the most amazing encounters! We saw Mantas, sharks, cool macro critters including pygmy seahorses and squid. Too many times we heard compliants on the boat of too many fish ruining the photos 😉