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Dive Review of Grand Komodo -- Raja Ampat Explorer in
Indonesia/Cendrawasih Bay

June, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Mel Cundiff, CO, US
Sr. Reviewer   (9 reports)
Report Number 6756
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Coral Reefs everywhere Plus
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

choppy, no currents  
Water Temp
85   to 88    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or  
Whale Sharks
> 2 
> 2 
1 or  
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
                Diving Cendrawashi Bay on the Birds Head Seascape of
              on the Raja Ampat Explorer 
           June 10-20, 2012
We boarded the boat in Manokwari, the capital of West Papua, after a flight
from Sorong and dived sites on the west side of the bay to the very
southern end.  There were eight of us diving with a crew of 14 -- several
in training; so there was ample room for cabin quarters and diving.  My
dives were from 40-99 with an average maximum depth of 69, and the water
temperature ranged from 85°-88°F with an average of 86°F. 
Visibility ranged from 20-80, averaging 48 and there was significantly
less current than we have experienced in Raja Ampat.  Everyone was using
computers, and we were allowed to dive our own profiles.  
As has always been the case with the Grand Komodo Fleet, our boat crew was
very friendly and treated us like royalty.  Our cook, Surya, provided new
creative and tasty meals with an Asian flavor using lots of fish, shrimp
and chicken dishes.  Soups, rice, various noodles, vegetables, salads and
deserts were always part of our dinners, and fresh pastries were often
served as afternoon snacks.  There was always more food than we could eat
and sashimi (tuna) was available once.
	Weka, one of Grand Komodos premier dive masters, was on his sixth trip
with us, and he acted as our eyes in finding fish and critters.  He had
been on these reefs a few times with Conservation International (CI) during
the recent biological diversity studies and knew his way around, but we
still managed to explore and even name a few new dive sites.  Dr. Mark
Erdmann of CI was in the area at the same time we were, and he was able to
tag 30 new whale sharks.  We encountered two other dive boats, but they did
not interfere with any of our dives.  This is a newly discovered hot spot
of critter diversity and will certainly be attracting a large number of
dive boats in the near future.
Our shake-down dive on the first day was on the 390 (120m) wreck of the
Japanese Shinwa Maru (sunk in 1943) carrying military cargo such as tanks
and 500-pound bombs.  We did only one other wreck dive on what was said to
be a Japanese Zero, but it appeared more likely to be a small dive
On many dives the overall diversity of hard corals seemed to be higher than
in other areas of Indonesia.  On one particular site, only, there was a
significant infestation of crown-of-thorns starfish, and lots of the
plate/table corals had been consumed.  We encountered almost no coral
bleaching on the trip and only a couple of sites where there was evidence
of dynamite/blast fishing.  Sea squirts, feather stars, sea cucumbers,
starfish and nudibranchs were major players on all reefs.   During the trip
we saw large schools of bumphead parrotfish, barracuda, surgeonfish,
unicorns, jacks, batfish and rainbow runners.  
We encountered the large variety of fishes and critters that one typically
sees on Indonesian reefs; they are not being listed here, but I will
mention a few.  We saw and interacted with four types of cephalopods,
devilfish, pipe horses, flasher wrasses, three epaulette sharks endemic to
the bay, five whale sharks (at two locations) and one of my favorites, a
juvenile pinnate batfish. 
I noted in my logbook 19 different species that I had not remembered seeing
before: two flatworms, one spaghetti worm, one ribbon worm, six
nudibranchs, one cuttlefish, one octopus, one shrimp, one crab, one mantis
shrimp, two sea cucumbers, one peanut worm seen a half dozen times and one
3½-5 inch unidentified grey juvenile eel with a top notch on the
forward part of its head.  It is not included in the fish ID books.  Not
seen on this trip were sea snakes, fire urchins, stonefish, Spanish dancers
and salps. 	
Yes, I have read a few negative comments about the Grand Komodo fleet of
dive boats, and at one time or another I have been on every one of them. 
Those same negative comments can be applied to a significant number of the
25-30 different live aboards I have dived on.  But trumping any negative
comments would be the native crew members and the attention they pay to
their guests!  Ill certainly be back on their boats again!  
On one night dive we came across a large, three-inch tonnid/tun snail
attached to, and eating, a three-foot long sea cucumber which was violently
thrashing on the reef.  The snail was eventually dislodged, but not before
a 1½ x 2½-inch piece of flesh had been torn off the
  We experienced a mild earthquake for about 30 seconds at the airport on
our return to Manokwari.  It was a 4.3 magnitude, centered in Makasar in
southern Sulawesi. 
As a side trip before boarding the boat, five of us took a four-day guided
trek into the Arfak Mountains south of Manokwari and from blinds were able
to see and photograph three different species of birds of paradise, one
species of bower bird and his bower and on another occasion saw a tree
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