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

Grand Komodo -- Raja Ampat Explorer, Jun, 2012,

by Mel Cundiff, CO, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports). Report 6756.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Coral Reefs everywhere Plus
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, no currents
Water Temp 85 to 88 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 20 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks > 2
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or
Corals 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments
Diving Cendrawashi Bay on the Birds Head Seascape of Indonesia
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 bomber.
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 holothurian.
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 kangaroo.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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