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Damai Dua (2) August 3-14 2012 Trip Report
Raja Ampat, Leatherback Sea Turtles, Manokwari Shipwrecks and Cenderawasih Whalesharks!

Cenderawasih Whalesharks - Dive Discovery

Our trip began as we set sail from Sorong on the beautiful Damai Dua (2). A beautiful luxury pinisi style liveaboard. Offering gorgeous teak wood, spacious well-appointed luxury cabins, a well thought out dive deck with a built in rinse tank for each diver, two excellent tender boats with easy boarding ladders, a spacious camera room with outlets to accommodate all needs and plenty of cabinet space, a large comfortable salon with a large wood dining table and a comfortable U shaped sofa with pillows in the salon.

The upper deck offers sun or shade when they deploy the Bedouin style canopy. There are 2 large day beds, with bean bag chairs which work well. There is also an aft deck with seating and lounge chairs and a wonderful outside dining when the weather & itinerary permits; a lovely way to dine under the vast array of stars in the remote areas of Indonesia.

Indonesia Trip Report: Damai Dua (2) August 3-14 2013 Raja Ampat and Cenderawasih Whalesharks!The crews are most attentive and exceedingly helpful, one needs not undress themselves the crews are there to help and take your suits and rinse them and they arrive back at your dive station ready for you. They do everything for you! They are very careful with cameras, everything is waiting in the tender for you, and all you bring is your mask!

Dive guides are very helpful in finding the minute creatures in the sea for everyone who cares! The chef is fantastic offering a healthy array of everything with 5 star presentations. They will accommodate any type of diet and if you wish to have something different for meals other than the menu they advise for lunch and dinner, it is never a problem. Fresh blended juices, fresh baked bread, cappuccinos, and the freshest salad ingredients I have ever seen, the lettuce looked like it was picked that day!

We begin our diving in Raja Ampat, we had to hang around for 1 day as one of our guests luggage did not arrive. However the dive outside the harbor was great, we saw our first wobbygong shark and a walking shark which this area is known for! Black Rocks surprised us with 4 leaf fish within 6 inches of each other and all a bit different! Lots of lovely nudibranch's here large and small. Ohhhhh a site called Mayhem, very fishy and full of mayhem! Schools of several types of colorful fusiliers, schools of yellow tailed barracuda, jacks, a gorgeous reef!

Still in Dampier strait we dive a place called 'Mangrove Ridge' where reef meets mangrove, a fun way to crawl in about 2 feet of water, looking at the wild roots of the mangroves and finding these Archer Fish, they spit water at insects to eat! My favorite are the Pajama Cardinal fish, they pose nicely and are very pretty with a sandy yellow colored body and dark stripe down the middle, very cute they are!

Two great sites in this area is Mioskon and Blue Magic, both got 5 stars in my log book! Extremely fishy busy water, heaps of fusiliers, jacks, barracuda, dog tooth tuna, friendly bat fish, and Agus finds us that teeny weeny Pontohi seahorse, smaller than a pygmy! Mioskon Island has thousands of fruit bats that came back to roost in the early am, a site to behold! We even saw a gray reef shark, what a lovely surprise, in hopes they are starting to recover from all the finning in years past. This was a Zen dive for me,,,,,,,,, ahhhhhhh!

We had some wind that did not allow us to dive Cape Kri, but found a couple productive sites with glassy sweepers, the large yellow and black nudi's very fishy area. The most amazing thing that happened however was my intimate 30 minutes with a very large cuttlefish! Rita and I diving along and I showed her the cuttle fish. He let me photograph him close. I floated and he floated, I reached out my hand to him gently swaying my fingers. He did not move. I got closer; he actually let my fingers intertwine with his tentacles!! I could not believe it, he was as curious as I was! Rita got some video of this, yeahhhh! He even let me touch the top 2 shorter antennae type on the top. I was in blue water bliss! I then was able to touch and stroke his belly. I really was in total disbelief; his skin sooooo soft like velvet. I then thought he wanted to go so I backed off. He stayed. Hmmmmm I went closer and we started all over! This went on for about 30 minutes. A truly beautiful gift from my beloved sea, thank YOU.

We are now making our way over the top of the Birds Head area of Papua, we dived a site called Junk Yard. A pretty cool site with loads of yellow striped fusiliers, posing sweetlips, lot of nudi's and lion fish.

Indonesia Trip Report: Damai Dua (2) August 3-14 2013 Raja Ampat and Cenderawasih Whalesharks!We stop to pick up 2 villager kids to bring with us to the leatherback turtle nesting beach. When they find a turtle coming up on the beach in the evening they will call us. What luck, at 9:00pm we had a lovely female working hard to dig her hole, she was missing a back flipper, which hindered her digging. There were a few NGO's from Manokwari there to document the Turtles, they had a scanner and she had beeen previously chipped, they measured her also. They assisted her in digging her hole as well as taking the eggs as she laid them to relocate them further up the beach to a safe spot. There are wild pigs and dogs in the jungle. What concerns me is, when the eggs are laid there will be a number of males vs females and not sure how that works when replanted. Larry McKenna is the leading researcher in this area www.leatherbackturtle.org for more information.

It was a very beautiful event, in 3hrs she dug her nest, laid her eggs with mucous pouring out of her eyes, resembling tears of pain. I knelt in front of her on the sand while she would sigh heavily from the labor as the mucous like tears fell down her face, full of sand. My own tears fell with hers……

We were all very moved and could not leave until she covered her hole and dragged her tired body back to the sea, what a beautiful privilege we all had observing this primal ancient calling. They lay eggs every 2 years with 3 different clutches, how she managed that 3 times is beyond me. Question: Are the males which are twice her size hanging around to mate for each clutch? I have some research to do here.

We are now in Manokwari and diving the Shintu Maru. A WWII large shipwreck laying on her side, with several types of colorful nudi's and a school of batfish. Some artifacts are still on the ship, a gas mask, plates and Saki bottles. A great site in the harbor is called White Cross as it lies just off the beach from the large white cross. This in an excellent critter dive on the slope! Large Pipe horses, robust ghost pipe fish, banded pipe fish & long armed octopus. We dived White cross again as it was so great, Les found a giant wobblygong just lying about!

Further down the Birds Head as we near the bay with the whalesharks we dived a hard coral wall, which had a number of gorgeous lime green & purple Elephant Ear coral, very photogenic. A friendly and curious Hawksbill turtle wanted to play with Les's safety sausage bag! It was pink and must have looked like sponge, it was hilarious how it used his flippers to try grabbing it, then he was chewing on it. Quentin got some great pictures of this funny turtle enthralled with Les and his dive gear! How cute!

We wake to the site of the Begans, the fishing platforms that have now made Cenderawasih Bay famous for the hand fed Whalesharks! We were not disappointed; we had 6 the first day, ranging in size from small to medium to one big boy! They stayed all day as divers went in groups of 3 or 4 or 2, it was amazing as they cared not we were there! The fishermen have big nets hanging off their make shift boats that are anchored close to shore. They catch small sardines in the night and they have learned the whalesharks enjoy being fed, they will do tail stands as the fishermen throw fish into their mouths and sometimes with pails of water! It is amazing to watch this at close range, as sometimes 2 at a time will tail stand right next to each other! They take turns and bank around the Bagan some coming up from the deep. They all get so close and bump into each other and divers, however not on purpose! It is a wild phenomenon and they seem to love being fed! They are huge puppies! There were a lot of photo opportunities with the sharks, but not so easy to get the exposure right. I wish I had another day at it!

The second day the vis was down in the afternoon but we did start with 5 and they slowly dwindled to 1, it is a thrill even with one constant whaleshark!

Damai 2 August 3-14 2013 Trip Report 
Raja Ampat, Leatherback Sea Turtles, Manokwari Shipwrecks and Cenderawasih Whalesharks - Dive Discovery

On our way back to Manokwari to disembark, we had our last dive at Roon on Pulau Rippon. It was fantastic! A lovely surprise, with schools of trigger fish, fusiliers and barracuda. While 2 other divers near me had their heads in the reef, I looked up and this gorgeous black velvet manta swum gracefully to me, past me and off into the deep! She was stunning and made me smile really big, a lovely end to a most wonderful dive trip on the backside of The Birds Head of Papua!

Thank you to the wonderful crew of Damai Dua, our cruise directors Gerry & Giel & Mike Veitch! You worked so hard to make everything perfect!!!

I will be back

Terima kasih,