Day 7 - Mola Mola Team


 

Photo by Andreas Jaschek

Day 7 -Daily Log - Mola Mola Team

Date: October 7, 2018

Boat location: Waigeo

Dive sites: Amphi Box (0730), Melissa Garden (1130), Galaxy (1500)

Weather conditions: Very sunny

Sunshine and blue skies today, the best conditions for taking in the view of Raja Ampat in all its glory. Beautiful dives as usual, the team has been spoiled rotten with our time in Raja Ampat so far. We've been surrounded by clear turquoise waters studded with lush green islands all day, and had an amazing time getting great drone footage. Equator crossing tonight, which will be a special milestone for some of our team members! Very memorable stuff.

Photo by Levente Rozsahegyi

 

 

Day 8 - Daily Log - Gaia Love

 

Sack on Coral © Cassandra Dragon

Daily Log - Day 8 - Gaia Love

Date: October 7, 2018

Boat location: Misool, Raja Ampat

Dive sites: Pele's Playground (A23), Blue Water Mangrove (A24), Microplastics Trawl (MP07), Blackwater (A25)

Weather conditions: Dark and cloudy

Highlights:

The first dive was in Pele's Playground at around 8:00AM. Because it was dark and cloudy, the visibility was estimated to be only 7-10 meters, the lowest we've had during the trip so far. Some divers went down deep despite the low vis to explore what could be in the blue. It was a good call -- they witnessed a feeding frenzy, as if a marine ecology teacher wanted to show a class the food chain. There were jacks and snappers hunting and barracudas feeding on the silver slides. They even witnessed barrel sponges spawning! It was a sensory overload.

Sponge Spawning © Emily Chan

Due to the low visibility, Gaia Love decided to cancel the second day dive and start traveling 50 miles to the next site: Blue Water Mangrove. We reached the area past 2:30PM and started gearing up. The pre-dive briefing was a bit tense due to the site's history of a crocodile attack that injured a diver years ago. Divers were informed of different scenarios and responses.

Blue Water Mangrove ©Cassandra Dragon

The waters in Blue Water Mangrove were as flat as a lake. No crocodiles were in sight, so we got in the water. It was a postcard-worthy environment, with corals growing on the mangroves' roots. It was surreal to see hard corals and soft corals right beside and beneath mangroves! We also spotted a range of critters like a helicopter goby hopping about, a wasp fish, mantis shrimp, nudibranchs, archerfish by the surface. We also unfortunately found debris like sacks and a plastic cup.

The Fish and Coral Teams got a day off today. After the dive, the Microplastics Team went out for a trawl. A visual inspection showed plastic bags and other items - including one labeled "Made in the USA." A count using the microscope will be done tomorrow.

It's also Jennifer's birthday, so the chefs baked a cake for her and we sang happy birthday at dinner.

After dinner, the divers were able to squeeze in another blackwater dive!

By tonight, we'll start a journey of 105 miles to our next site.

Glass Fish © Emily Chan

Day 7 - Daily Log - Damai II

 

Pygmy at the Passage © Jayne Jenkins

Daily Log - Day 7 - Damai II

Date: 6 October 2018

Boat location: Raja Ampat

Dive sites: Four Kings, Neptune’s Fan Sea, Barracuda Rock, Barracuda Rock (Bonfire and Blackwater)

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

General notes:

The team descended into the deep and was amazed at the majesty of the four pinnacles at Four Kings. We were instantly surrounded by a huge ball of baitfish and walls of massive sea fans.

During surface interval, we took the tender out and cruised around a nearby traditional bagan (floating fish platform) which the fishermen used light to lure baitfish into the nets. We were all wondering if it was illegal for these bagans to be bringing in those catch, the captain reassured that these boats were issued permits to do so!

Bagan's catch of the day © Jayne Jenkins

Ernie Brooks - the thinking man © Jayne Jenkins

The second dive at Neptune’s Fan Sea was stunning. The myriad of marine creatures left the divers in absolute awe. Some team members found pygmy seahorses in the deeper waters while Sam even found corals that she has not seen at other sites! Renato was so intrigued with the cleaning stations where yellow-tail fusiliers lined up to get groomed.

Grooming time for the batfish © Jayne Jenkins

The scientists decided to do their respective surveys the next dive at Barracuda Rock. Challenged by strong currents, Renato was forced to abort his survey. Sam, along with Virginia, found a pretty sweet spot and finished their tasks.

The scientists Renato Morais and Sam Shu Qin © Jayne Jenkins

We ended our day with a mix of bonfire, blackwater and reef dive at Barracuda Rock under starry starry night.

Tracey Jennings against the beautiful backdrop of soft coral walls © Jayne Jenkins

 

Day 7 - Daily Log - Gaia Love

 

Turtle © Cassandra Dragon

Daily Log - Day 7 - Gaia Love

Date: October 6, 2018

Boat location: Misool, Raja Ampat

Dive sites: 4 Kings (A19 and A20); Wedding Cake (A21); Black Water (A22)

Weather conditions: Sunny

Highlights:

Another beautiful day in Raja Ampat! We started 15 minutes earlier than the day before, at 6:45AM. We did our two morning dives in the same site: 4 Kings, a beautiful dive site with four pinnacles. There were schools and schools of glass fish glimmering, forming clouds above, beneath, and around us. There were also barracudas, a giant grouper hiding under a coral, barramundis, yellow-tailed fusiliers, and jacks.

The third dive in Wedding Cake was supposed to be a working dive for the Coral and Fish Teams, but the current didn't allow it. It transformed into a leisure dive for all divers, with the current coming in and out, changing our direction several times. There was a hawksbill turtle, nudibranchs, and a meadow of soft and hard coral in various colors.

The Microplastics Team went back out at 17:00. Unfortunately we collected another jar full of jellies just like yesterday, which means we are unable to use the sample. But on the flip side, the good news is that we didn't find large pieces of plastics like bags or food packaging.

The weather was stable enough for a blackwater dive, setting nine divers back into the water for their fourth dive of the day!

Tomorrow is another day in Raja Ampat, with four scheduled dives, starting with Pele's Playground.

Images © Cassandra Dragon