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Raja Ampat to Ambon via the Banda Sea November 4-16 2007

Next stop is Bandaniera Island, one of my favorites! This is GREAT diving; the harbour garbage dump at the pier, the lava flow and outside the mouth of the Harbour! The lava flow area has numerous extremely large table corals all layered in lovely patterns, Rita found me a huge crocodile fish also! We had a great team effort to remove a large fishing net that got a way from the fishermen covering the reef!

Bandaniera Island UnderwaterThe pier dive offers an amazing variety of muck diving at its best. We found many fire urchins and some had the winning prize of the zebra crab and 2 Coleman shrimps! Another had a shell with eggs dangling down like a pair of earrings! Lots of schools of razor fish, 2 Inimicus (devil fish) ugly,,,,, mantas shrimps on the run. The highlight here for many of us are the stunning multi colored Mandarin Fish, they grow them big here! You can actually see them in the daytime and with some patience get good images of them. On one dive I stayed underwater for over 2 hrs in hopes to see them in their beautiful mating dance, however I learned they were mating below my fins!!! Uggggg. Never mind I had so much fun with playing peek a boo with these gorgeous fish, they win the beauty contest in my book!!! Such a great place to dive here!

The town visit has a lot of historical value, the old fort and the base of the Spice Island trade.

Batu Kapal UnderwaterBatu Kapal is an island outside the mouth of the harbor, an EXCELLENT dive on a pinnacle. Thousands of red tooth trigger fish, (those cute blue triggers that hide in all the holes and all you see are the tails) here they are out and happy to be swimming freely! Tons of fish all over this site, very busy and fishy!! Schooling catfish, bannerfish, pyramid butterfly fish, hawkfish, a large marble ray, and hammerhead shark! A very pretty site for sure!

Ambon UnderwaterLast stop Ambon, 'Laha' (famous dive site in more garbage) also called The Twilight Zone'. What a way to end this trip, many years ago when the Cehili had docked here, divers went under the boat in the harbour with lots of garbage and found amazing life beneath the boat, especially Rhinopia's frondosa! . I am happy to say we had some great wild and wacky critters here for our last 2 dives, however the Rhinopia's were elusive. A sandy slope with loads of fun photo's op's: flying Gunards, 2 large pipe sea horses, 3 large dark red sea horses in a variety of shades some mottled with yellow, 1 tiny thorny yellow sea horse, 2 different beautiful snake eels free swimming, spotted banded eel white with black dots trimmed in yellow nostrils and mouth! Two tiny hairy scorpion fish, actually I only found one then amazingly my dive buddy spotted the smaller one right next to it, all very camouflaged. Several small lovely cuttlefish feeding; a ceratasoma trilobatum nudibranch sitting next to 2 inimicus devil fish (scary looking things). A pretty blue spotted box fish as an added bonus to colorize this volcanic sandy garbage bottom. Ok so I once again missed the two Harlequin ghost pipe fish!

Ambon UnderwaterThe second and last dive offered a Solar Nudi, a large wonderful exciting find! They are able to get away from prey by letting go of the many appendages they have as they sway beautifully in the current. Missed the Harlequin ghost pipe fish again ;-(. Blue ribbon eels, octopus and the most exciting ending for me was my last shot before my cameral battery died, a tiny quarter size black frog fish!

Life is good diving in Indonesia! This was my 12th escorted trip to these amazing wonders of our underwater world. And of course I will keep going back!

-- Cindi LaRaia

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