14 Mar, 2018 Back to blog

Raja Ampat Indonesia - Dive 2000 dive holiday Feb 2018

By Kevin Deacon.

“All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by” the immortal words of the poem Sea Fever murmured in my mind as our vessel `Sea Horse’ cavorted in the slight swell, her bows pointed to the remote islands of Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia where the World’s most diverse coral reefs beckoned. Our Dive 2000 dive team were all busy preparing dive gear, cameras, strobes and video lights all finetuned for 10 days and over 30 dives in the Halmahera Sea.

Raja Ampat is located in the approximate centre of a region referred to as `the coral triangle'. Encompassing both the Indian & Pacific oceans with Papua New Guinea & The Solomon's Islands to the East, Indonesia all the way to the West and the Philippine islands to the North more species of marinelife have evolved here than any other location in the World.

 

Our vessel Sea Horse has a proud history of over 16 years diving the Indonesian archipelago and a linage of Bugis shipbuilders as long as it is famed. As far back as the 14th century the inhabitants of southern Sulawesi, the Bugis people, were revered as sailors and boat builders as well as pirates and even slave traders. Today, they continue to build their beautiful indigenous pinisi (or phinsi) boats by hand, on the beach, with no blue prints or plans.

The beauty of the pinisi boats is not only their aesthetic charm, a cross between the hull of an Arabian dhow and the rigging of a schooner but their minimal draft below the water line. Hence, their ability to safely navigate the shallow coastal waters of Indonesia’s expansive archipelago whilst laden with cargos of timber and spices.

Today, the pinisi are as likely to be built for fellow Indonesian merchants as they are for international clients desiring luxurious live-aboard dive boats to tour Indonesia’s spectacular islands and coral reefs.

Our Pinisi Live Aboard Dive ship Sea Horse waits at anchor as our dive team explores the reefs nearby.

Each morning our cargo of seafarers would emerge and scramble into wetsuits and other dive apparel, none wanting to miss the daily routine of three dives interspersed with fine cuisine and the occasional night dive!

Two outboard powered dive shuttle boats manned by skilled captains would whisk them away to reefs and encounters with marinelife species most had never encountered before.

The Dive 2000 team and our Indonesian dive guides approached every dive with mounting enthusiasm as they had learned there was always something amazing waiting for them.

 

 

The following images convey that which is beyond words but indelibly imprinted in the memories of all our Dive 2000 Team who shared the Raja Ampat adventure.

John Park joins a school of Big Eye Jacks schooling above the reef. Les Schumer demonstrates excellent photographer procedure using his fin tips and hand probe to avoid stirring up the sand while photographing a coconut octopus on the move.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue light filters through an arch as Peter Cave captures the vista of fish schooling past gorgonian sea fans and soft corals.

Blue light filters through an arch as Peter Cave captures the vista of fish schooling past gorgonian sea fans and soft corals.
Fish schools are so prolific at Raja Ampat sometimes it is hard to see through them!Raja Ampat is the only location where Tasselled Wobbegongs are found consistently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The diversity of life on these reefs includes many of the 25 species of clownfish.

 

Long nose Hawk fish, Lined Sweetlips & Regal Angelfish are just a taste of the 1,320 species of fish scientist have identified in Raja Ampat reefs.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Large octopus hunting among the corals were encountered often.

Spectacular Bi-Valve clams demonstrated vivid colour patterns their shells providing a habitat for sponge, soft corals and sea squirts.

A Harlequin Ghost Pipefish shelters amongst the stinging fronds of a hydroid. Normally these fish prefer feather stars.

 

Blue light filters through an undersea arch as dive guide Daniel passes through the entrance, schools of fusiliers patrol framed by gorgonian sea fans. Shafts of sunlight reflect off the island above.

The richness of Raja Ampat Reefs is captured in this image of an angelfish inspecting an anemone sheltering clownfish, multi hued soft corals and gorgonians provide shelter as a red coral cod peeps out while schools of fish patrol above.There is nowhere else in the world where I have been able to capture so much undersea splendour in a single frame! However it is not without its challenges, the nutrient rich water is full of plankton which make wide angle images difficult due to backscatter (light reflecting off any particles in the water). The secret to achieving good images is through the use of very wide angle lenses to minimise the distance between subject and photographer and extra long telescopic strobe arms for more effective strobe positioning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by"

As MV Sea Horse’s bow pointed back to home and the islands of Raja Ampat disappeared off our stern, my thoughts turned to another tall ship and other stars to steer by!
Next year the crystal blue waters of Tahiti beckon and among the reefs beneath the keel of French Polynesia Master awaits pods of playful dolphins, schools of sharks, squadrons of manta rays and shoals of big pelagic fish. The endless horizon beckons all sailors but none more than the underwater seafarer!
Click on the link below for our next exceptional dive adventure in 2019
http://www.dive2000.com.au/overseas-travel/french-polynesia-tahiti-liveonboard

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