Diving Raja Ampat to Ternate, Indonesia, March 3-13, 2016

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Diving Raja Ampat to Ternate, Indonesia, March 3-13, 2016

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jul 25, 2016 2:41 pm

It has taken considerable time to go through dive pictures from our Indonesia trip. This was our first time using the GoPro. Liz researched extensively and concluded that GoPro is the best option for ease of use underwater with decent quality at a reasonable price. As noted in my eclipse post, there were several divers with 50+ trips of experience and high end underwater camera systems costing well into 5 digits. At the end you can compare some of those pics to our amateur efforts.

The itinerary is shown here:
Solar Eclipse trip overview.jpg

Sorong is at the western tip of New Guinea. The typical Raja Ampat dive trip starts as ours did, then circles north to dive sites as far as Wayag before returning to Sarong. Our itinerary went NW to intercept the SW to NE eclipse path before ending at Ternate. I put a map of that area on my eclipse post viewtopic.php?f=5&t=12095 .

On the east side of Misool we saw an octopus out in the open.
Wedding Cake 0283a-octopus.jpg

Usually they are in crevasses and you only see a small part.

Magic Mountain was a highlight dive site on the SE side of Misool. This trip was a bit light on sharks and very large fish, but here's a Napoleon wrasse with a couple of divers in the background.
Magic Mtn 0562.JPG

The wobbegong (~4 feet long) is an unusual bottom dweller here:
Magic Mtn 0619-wobbegong.JPG

Misool has a nice land based eco resort for divers who would prefer that to a liveaboard.

Mangroves at the water's edge usually have cloudy water, but Misool's Blue Water Mangroves are an exception.
Blue Water Mangroves 0886.JPG

Coral grows on the mangrove roots.
Blue Water Mangroves 1007.JPG

This was a fairly large (~4 inches) nudibranch on the sand.
Blue Water Mangroves 0832.JPG

Now we had a couple of days crossing from Raja Ampat to Halmahera. Fortunately the isolated Pulau Pisang is halfway in between so we had 3 dives there on March 7. Coral was very impressive in this off-the-beaten-track area. Here's a shrimp with oversize antennae in the coral.
Big Banana 1196.JPG

The next day we reached Bacan Island and dived at Penambuan. This was the beginning of "muck diving," which is often over sand rather than coral, and you're usually looking for small and unusual sea life. These cuttlefish hovering over the plants are about a foot long.
Penambuan 1317a.jpg

Here's a small spotted eel
Penambuan 1365a.jpg

Leaf scorpionfish are about two inches long
Penambuan 1403a.jpg

Some of them are in more bright colors like yellow or purple, but this was our best close-up view.

We saw the morning eclipse on March 9 and were at nearby Siko Island for reef diving by lunchtime.
Tamotamo Rock 1739a.jpg

The last day and a half we were at Makian Island, which was all muck diving. This sometimes requires patience, and one of the dives we saw little during the first half as we were fighting a current. Night dives can be rewarding at these sites as some creatures that stay under rocks during the day will come out for better views at night. Photography is more challenging though, so most of our pics are during the day. One of the more unusual fish was this ~3 foot long flying gunard.
Makian Jetty 2177a-flying gunard.jpg

It's not that photogenic in gray color hugging the sand but I followed it for quite a while. Occasionally it would spread its side fins like wings.

This octopus was purple under the rocks but changed color to pale yellow as it emerged.
Makian Jetty 2328a.jpg

Leaf pipefish:
Makian Jetty 2359a.jpg

Makian Jetty 2440a.jpg

Small ~3 inch frogfish:
Makian Jetty 2557a.jpg

Several razorfish suspended vertically among plants:
Makian Jetty 2622a.jpg

School of juvenile catfish:
Makian Mosque 2191.JPG

Richard is next to a mysterious translucent blob, as yet unidentified:
Makian Mosque 2224.JPG

It has the color of a jellyfish, but not the usual symmetry nor did it have tentacles hanging below it.

Here's the Damai II with one of its dive zodiacs.

As I commented in the eclipse post, The Damai dive boats are very luxurious, with spacious cabins, good food and very attentive service.

Here are some of Gladys' pics with a top level DSLR camera and dive lights/accessories. Pygmy seahorse:

These are barely 1cm long, hard for me to even see with a corrective lens dive mask.

School of large angelfish:

Back to the smaller stuff, most of these 2-3 inches long max. Juvenile batfish:

Banded shrimp:

Orangutan crab:

Ribbon eel:

Juvenile emperor angelfish


Decorator crab, about 6 inches across:

This variety of frogfish could be about a foot long.

Liz was pleased with her bucket list dive trip. The strong points of Raja Ampat are very healthy and diverse coral and the unusual small critters endemic to the area.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
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Tony Crocker
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