Day 6 - Daily Log - Gaia Love

 

Ribbon Fish © Michael AW

Daily Log - Day 6 - Gaia Love

Date: October 5, 2018

Boat location: Misool, Raja Ampat

Dive sites: Tank Rock (A15), Magic Mountain (A16), Neptune’s Fan Sea (A17), Under the Began (A18)

Weather conditions: Sunny

Highlights:

It was an early day for Gaia Love! We were back in Tank Rock by 7:00. The site, just like yesterday, dazzled us with its healthy coral cover and numerous species of fish. One group saw an oceanic manta.

After breakfast, we geared up for Magic Mountain. This site was described in superlatives by divers who had been there before. Magic Mountain newbies would say that the experience lived up to the hype: visibility was about 20 meters, and there were schools and schools of yellow snappers, yellow-tailed fusilier, and silver sliders. Towards the end of the dive, when many of us were on our safety stop, an ocean manta decided to come out to play.

Reef at Magic Mountain © Fabian Schorp

 

Reef at Magic Mountain © Fabian Schorp

The afternoon was a working dive for the Coral and Fish Teams. Paul, our coral scientist on board, reported a rare Acropora coral found at 40-45m depth. The species, Acropora simplex, is only found in Central/East Indonesia. The team also found Acropora pichoni. Both species are rare and restricted to a small geographical area.

The third dive was in Neptune’s Fan Sea. “It’s a sea fan buffet,” said our Cruise Director Gerry during the dive briefing. “You will see sea fans of all shapes, sizes, and colors!”

And a sea fan buffet it was. There were rows and rows of sea fans. At about 10 meters, we spotted pygmy seahorse clinging to the fan coral. It was pink - just like the seahorse in the Elysium Coral Triangle seal!

Pygmy Seahorse © Jacq Teo

After the third dive, the Microplastics Team went out to collect data. Fifteen minutes in the water yielded jellyfish-filled water that we unfortunately couldn’t use because the debris was mixed with the jellies. We returned the sample back to the sea.

Other expedition members had the chance to set foot on land by staying in the beach.

After dinner, several divers went out for a bonfire dive underneath a bagan.

Tomorrow is another day in Raja Ampat!

Day 6 - Daily Log - Damai II

 

A majestic manta ray checking us out © Jayne Jenkins

Daily log – Day 6 - DAMAI II

Date: 5 October 2018

Boat location: Raja Ampat

Dive sites: Whale Rock, Nudi Rock/Tank Rock, Magic Mountain, Yilliet (Bonfire)

Weather conditions: Sunny and smooth waves (0.1 – 0.5 m high)

General notes:

“Are we ‘sciencing’ today?” Joshua asked before he started to gear up for the team’s first dive of the day. ‘Sciencing’, coined by fish scientist Renato, is doing science while diving! Virginia and Joshua helped Sam and Renato with their respective coral and fish survey. Some of us even joined the legendary photographer Ernest Books II and Sally Vogel on their snorkel trip after the dive!

Virginia helping Sam with coral survey © Emry Oxford

Back on the boat, Brett took our CC Remotely Operated underwater Vehicle (ROV) out for a spin. As soon as the CCROV hits the water, it met with two remoras! He piloted the CCROV on its first test run to 50m and found small bommie filled with gorgonians and whip corals on the sandy bottom. We even had an inquisitive triggerfish! Sarah-Jo and Brett also did another sea surface plastic trawl between the dives. In the sieved sample, they found a mixture of colourful fragments and filaments (ranging from 0.5mm to 5mm)!

Brett trying out the CC Remotely Operated underwater Vehicle during surface interval © Jayne Jenkins

The deployment of CCROV attracted those remoras almost instantly!  © Jayne Jenkins

 

Filaments and fragments among the sieved samples today!  © Sarah-Jo Lobwein

The researchers teamed up with Emry and Joshua for another survey at Nudi Rock (with some distractions from manta rays!). The dive at Magic Rock was (like last dive) breath-taking. Upon descent, the team found a huge manta ray circling around them! After some kicks, we found ourselves in the middle of the jacks’ hunting game. Some of us we were so caught up with the jacks and fusiliers’ showdown that we spent 40 minutes against strong currents at the same spot!

Pleasant surprise from the school of batfish! © Emry Oxford

The day ended with a beautiful sunset and a bonfire dive for some of the team members. Oh, we heard that Brett even found himself a pet squid during the dive! We are going to the highly acclaimed Four Kings tomorrow. Can’t wait!

A beautiful sunset to end the day © Jayne Jenkins

Our trusty surface support from DAMAI for all our dives © Jayne Jenkins

 

 

Day 4 - Mola Mola Team

 

Photo by Alex Rose

Day 4 -Daily Log - Mola Mola Team

Date: October 4, 2018

Boat location: Misool

Dive sites: Balbulol Reef (0730), Three Sisters (1130), Wedding Cake (1500), channel dive (2100)

Weather conditions: Partly cloudy skies

Great progress with the surveys so far, most of the coral survey targets done, with positive findings of 100% coral cover on all surveys so far. After completing 3 fish surveys, we have found 170 species in the regions covered to date. Similarly, the plastics surveys are going strong at the halfway mark and Mola Mola are starting on black water surveys today. The team found lots of baby squid , shrimp, jellyfish and other strange and wonderful marine micro organisms on our first black water dive. Go team!!

 

Blackwater Dive photo by Marco Steiner
 

Day 5 - Daily Log - Damai II

 

A massive coral garden © Emry Oxford

Daily log – Day 5 - DAMAI II

Date: 4 October 2018

Boat location(s): Raja Ampat

Dive sites: Magic Mountain, Tank Rock, Boo Windows, Yilliet (Bonfire)

Weather conditions: Sunny and smooth waves (0.1 – 0.5 m high)

General notes:

“We’ve got 42 hours of surface interval!” exclaimed Brett at the breakfast table. As we spent the previous day travelling from Manuk, everyone cannot wait to hit the waters and start diving. As DAMAI II slowly come to a halt, we find ourselves surrounded by several majestic islands. We have finally arrived in Raja Ampat.

It was the first time that everybody was punctual for our dive briefing at the deck. Magic mountain lived up to its name! The team was greeted with manta rays, wobbegongs (even free-swimming ones), napoleon wrasses and a spectacular school of baitfish!

Just cruising. © Emry Oxford

Tank rock and Boo Windows did not disappoint as well. With lush soft corals (especially those big sea fans) and schooling fish, the dive sites served as stunning backdrops for our photographers. Scientists Renato and Sam (with the help of Joshua, Virginia and Renee) did their respective fish and coral surveys for both sites. The surveys were challenging due to surge and currents but the team managed to complete the tasks. Sarah-Jo and Brett conducted their second plastic trawl. Good news! No microplastic was recovered in the sieved sample. The team planned to do more trawls as we get closer to civilisation.

  Renato swarmed with baitfish! © Emry Oxford

We ended off the day with a bonfire dive at Yilliet. This was a first experience for many of us and we were so intrigued by those drifters!

With flat seas and no more crossing, team DAMAI can finally have a good and undisturbed sleep.

Blackwater ghost pipefish © Sabrina Inderbitzi