12 December

Boo Windows

The Pindito steamed all of last night till 10am this morning to Misool. The first dive site at 11am was in Boo.  The landscape of limestone islands and outcrops is similar to Coron and El Nido, Palawan in the Philippines. Beautiful! This is finally my introduction to Raja Ambat as Yogi has been here many times on the Pindito about 15 years ago!

Two big swim throughs with brilliant soft corals and fan corals as the perfect foreground

Our first Raja Ampat dive had two big swim throughs with brilliant soft corals and fan corals as the perfect foreground

Actually, could not concentrate in looking for the small things as there was just an over abundance of everything.

Colors gone nuts - orange soft corals and fan corals everywhere!

Colors gone wild – orange soft corals and fan corals everywhere!

Bright tunicates or sea squirts with featherlike hydroids which I hated because I was diving with shorts and they can sting like hell!

Like from an expensive florist, bright yellow and violet tunicates or sea squirts  arranged with  pink soft corals and featherlike hydroids. Would make a cool hat don’t you think?

There were so many batfish, groupers, triggerfish, fusiliers, damselfish, groupers, wrasses, I can go on and on.  I found a muricela fan and decided to look for a pygmy seahorse. I didn’t find one because I got really distracted by a small blue cleaner wrasse nibbling at my bare leg as I was in shorts! This has never happened to me before. Imagine that!

13 December – Sunday
Fiabatcet

Was ready and waiting by 7am. Gunung Ajaib, a submerged reef near Warakaraket Island was supposed to have BIG 5 meter mantas at 20 meters. But there was current and we stayed in front of the current, protected by the reef behind us. No mantas unfortunately. The reef was covered with soft corals and fans, and there was so much fish action in the blue green waters. It was actually green.

We're so happy to see a healthy number of coral groupers seen here with a lionfish

We’re so happy to see a healthy number of coral groupers seen here with a lionfish

There were loads of fusiliers, surgeonfish, batfish, barracudas, so much fish. But what was really interesting is the number of different soft corals. On a small rock, there were 7 colors – 6 soft corals and 1 fan. This is just on one rock!

Polyps open

Polyps open

Polyps close

Polyps close

Second dive was in Fiabatcet that was beautiful at 20 to 10 meters full of giant fans. It was a little hard work with the current but once we got to the best part of the dive site, which was the tip, the current sort of disappeared a little bit.

Massive fan corals with schooling silversides in synchronized motion

Massive fan corals with schooling silversides in synchronized motion

Third dive was in Jamur in Wajil Island. There was a fan at 19 meters with at least 10 pygmy seahorse Denise. No kidding! But it was Edi’s fan and he was there for a LONG time. No chance to get any pictures. There was also some current so forget it.

Bat

Batfish were just begging for their pictures taken. They didn’t leave and was literally in our face!

We had an afternoon drive on the speedboat around the many islands of Misool. WOW.

Eoin Ocleigh, our new friend from Ireland working on weather satellites for the EU joins us for a spin around the beautiful Misool islands

Eoin Oclerigh, our new friend from Ireland working on weather satellites for the EU joins us for a spin around the beautiful Misool islands

The limestone islands and the plants that grew on them, the wild palm trees, the pitcher plants, the inner lagoons, the clear waters that showed how corals grew to meet the surface – incredible! It was stunning.

Karst limestone outcrops

Karst limestone outcrops

It was so remote and quite a privilege to be there, to be engulfed by perfection.

Two Pinisi dive boats with the Pindito in the far right

Two Pinisi dive boats with the Pindito in the far right

14 December – Monday
Walib
Jilliet

First dive was in a great wall in Dinding Rene in Walib Island. It was fan after fan after fan to no end. At 23 meters, it was sandy bottom and there was no current. How to tell too that no current was running were the soft corals on the sandy bottom. They were all limp and seem to be resting, waiting for the current to run again to be plumped up.

Big fan corals in the shallows with the limestone topside penerating the water surface

Big fan corals in the shallows with the limestone topside penerating the water surface

Second dive was great same dive site as the first but different part of the wall. Yogi first stayed like 15 minutes shooting the shallows. Mike, our guide motioned to me with his torch. When I went to the sandy bottom at 20  meters, he showed me the red pygmy seahorse with white dots! Whoopy! What a treat. Now I had to get Yogi down to this area, which was good timing as Edi filmed it for a while.

There were two of them, these beautiful pygmy Denise seahorses! See them?

There were two of them, these beautiful pygmy Denise seahorses! See them?

Then when I was close to deco, Clay showed us a Pikachu nudibranch. It was soooo cute!

Then when I was close to deco, Clay showed us a Pikachu nudibranch. It was soooo cute!

What a wall! It really was a stunning wall.

The third dive was in a site not visited by Edi for many many years Jilliet. There was a big cave and could have made a nice pictures except for the visibility. Mike found us 2 colors of pygmy seahorse Denise- the common peach one and the super cute red and white.

Pygmy seahorse Hippocampus denise

Pygmy seahorse Hippocampus denise

Still can’t think why the red and white is not its own species. It looks so different . . .

I found a tinny tiny dendronephthya crab on a soft coral. It still was in the process of growing its own soft coral polyps onto its back but it’s getting there

I found a tinny tiny dendronephthya crab on a soft coral. It’s still growing its own soft coral polyps onto its back to complete its camouflage look

Started steaming north towards Waigeo. Will reach there by morning tomorrow. Watched a Swiss documentary on our friend – Edi’s Paradise II. Lots of sea snakes in Snake Island Gunung Api south of Banda. Yikes. There were about 20 in one frame!