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

Day 5 - Daily Log - Gaia Love


A school of damselfish. Photo by Emily Chan.

Daily Log - Day 5 - Gaia Love

Date: October 4, 2018

Boat location: Misool, Raja Ampat

Dive site: Tank Rock (A11), Boo West (12), Yelliet Kecil (A13)

Weather conditions: Windy and cloudy


Gaia Love now reporting from Raja Ampat! The weather during breakfast was gloomy, with dark skies and strong winds. But the weather couldn't rain on our parade - everyone on board was excited to be in Raja Ampat and even more excited to be in the water.

Manta in the Blue. Photo by Jessie Xue.

Our first dive was in Tank Rock at 8:30AM. Within one minute of getting in the water, a queen manta welcomed one dive group to Raja Ampat. The whole dive was a never-ending meadow of soft and hard corals and schools of fish in different sizes. We also spotted a couple of reef sharks, a pair of eagle rays, and a pair of mantas at the end of the dive. It was a haven for photographers using their wide angle lenses.

On the second dive in Boo West, there were rows of sea fans, large and small. The palette of the coral reefs ranged from yellow to pink to purple. The school of silver slides showed off as they moved rapidly as a pack.

A diver behind silver slides. Photo by Emily Chan.

The third dive was a working dive! The dive at Yelliet Kecil began at 1600. The Fish Team tried to put a 50-meter transect, but the topography of the reef sloped and they ran out of space, needing to adjust the entire transect another 10 meters. The Coral Team was hard at work - they recorded the hard coral diversity in the first two sites, up to 40m. They recorded one rare coral species at 45 meters. On the third site, they laid a 50-meter transect at 15-20m with video and macro photography, and another 50-meter transect between 5-10m. Paul reported that soft coral cover was high, and hard coral cover was medium.

After cancelling night dives for the last two nights due to rough weather, the night dive for tonight finally pushed through!

Tomorrow, we continue diving in Raja Ampat and resume data collection for microplastics.










Day 3 - Mola Mola Team


Plastics trawling drone photo by Levente Rozsahegyi

Day 3 -Daily Log - Mola Mola Team

Date: October 3, 2018

Boat location: Mioskoon

Dive sites: Sauwenderek Jetty (0730), Manta Sandy (1100), Dayang Bay (1500)

Weather conditions: Sunny and clear skies 

After a night of rainy weather and leaky roofs the weather cleared up spectacularly for Day 3 of our surveys. The Coral team went out to Sauwenderek jetty and found significant coral diversity, teeming with fish life. Lots of wobbegongs just lurking around amongst the corals, and we made some good progress with the fish surveys as well. Just before lunch, the team camped out at the Manta Sandy cleaning station for a silty dive and hung out with the manta rays. The drone team were able to get some spectacular aerial shots of sunset, as well as the plastics team doing their regular trawl. 

Wobbygong photo by Marco Steiner

Coral Survey Team photo by Jen Ong


Day 4 - Daily Log - Damai II


Look at that majestic tail flukes! © Jayne Jenkins

Daily log – Day 5 - DAMAI II

Date: 3 October 2018

Boat location(s): Departed Manuk (1620 hrs) to Misool, due to bad weather conditions, we had to miss out on Koon.

Dive sites: No dives today

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

General notes:

During the sail from Manuk to Koon, rough seas have delayed our schedule. Decision was made to miss out on Koon as we will not have arrived there until early evening.

Sarah-Jo and her Blue Whale! © Brett Lobwein

In the serious business of ocean conservation, the DAMAI team showed that it is possible to also have a whale of a time. In the early morning, we got up close and personal on our tenders to some majestic whales! Drone photography, shots from the boats and search images from the web have confirmed sightings of both fin whales and blue whales.

Utilising the calm sailing weather (the first Damai has had the whole trip so far!) Sarah-Jo was able to start the microplastic analysis - sorting, identifying and classifying the type and abundance of microplastic pieces collected in our first 30-minute sea surface trawl. Over a distance of 1.09 nautical miles, most of the 500-micrometre sieved sample was gelatinous and crustacean larvae with only a few microplastic pieces – including a 2mm blue fragment, five 1mm granules (needs chemical analysis); pieces of filaments including a long thread, ten polystyrene foam that is most probably contamination from the neuston net packaging, and six unknown black fragment that may be plastic or organic.

We are currently sailing overnight to Misool and is expected to arrive at 0900 hrs. We have corals and fish surveys, plastic trawling and black water dive planned the next day.

Sarah-Jo Lobwein sorting microplastic pieces from the organics in our first plastic trawl. © Jayne Jenkins