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|Newsletter December 2011|
Trip Report Raja Ampat (November 2011)
Hi To All!
We had an early start in Raja Ampat this year and our first trip of this new Raja Ampat season was a great success. With clear skies, calm waters, & some memorable diving, it's good to be back! For some of our Kiwi guests, it was their third time on board the Seven Seas and it was like having our family on board.
Underwater highlights included 3 species of pygmy seahorse on Misool's myriad of sea fans, as well as schools of pickhandle & chevron barracuda, teira & pinnate batfish, big eye trevally; a stack of schooling lined sweetlips at Otdima, a pair of curious mobula rays at Boo, marble & cow tail rays in Misool and the manta rays of Arborek put on an amazing show for us at Manta Sandy. Then we had 4 species of ghostpipefish at Batanta's Algae Patch 2, including the rarely seen halimeda ghostpipefish. Later, also at Batanta, Happy Ending lived up to its name revealing an orange painted frogfish hiding by a sponge of the same colour and during the dusk dive one of our sharp-eyed guests spotted a flamboyant cuttlefish! Other cephalopod sightings included numerous cuttlefish, white V octopus, bob-tail squid and a blue ringed octopus at Arborek Jetty. Guests snorkeling at Manta Sandy spotted no less than 4 sargassum frogfish floating in a raft on the surface.
Also topside Raja Ampat never ceases to delight us, with it's karst beehives, caves & caverns, bats, Red Birds of Paradise, hornbills, orchids & pitcher plants and we were given a very special treat this time: while moored near Wayil, we were entertained for over an hour by a pod of inshore bottlenose dolphins, or was it they who were entertained by us, with their game of chasing around and around the tender boat, diving under it, blowing bubbles and peering at us with curious eyes. How we wished we could understand their whistles and clicks! As the sun set and the stars & planets appeared, they escorted us back to the Seven Seas (see "Dancing with Dolphins" video below), while guests started to make plans for future cruises...
Availability for 2012
With 2011 coming to an end, here's a summary of available cruises in the New Year:
NOTE ESPECIALLY the two East of Flores cruises (April 30 and September 9) which we added/re-scheduled from other destinations after many enquiries following our most recent newsletter about that destination. Click here to read that one if you missed it and click here to check out our complete destination page for East of Flores. And don't forget to check the videos there!
Conservation: On Seafood Choices
While some dives in Komodo and Raja Ampat are still "sharky" to a limited extend, many divers and scientists report they hardly see any sharks anymore on reefs in Indonesia. A blog by The Nature Conservancies' Sangeeta Manghubai on their recent expedition in Raja Ampat told us how surveyors did not see any sharks except in areas where the sharks are protected with support of the dive tourism industry.
We hope it's not too late for reef sharks, but awareness in Asia is growing and more and more Asians start to believe that we cannot just chose to eat everything all the time that comes out of the oceans. As of now, 97 hotels and Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong are offering their own unique, shark-free banquet options. This growing support from the restaurant sector implies that the market trend is changing and consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious.
Last week WWF-Hong Kong organized the first-ever Sustainable Seafood Week in Hong Kong. Nine restaurants served sustainable seafood meals in the week of 26th Nov to 4th Dec.
Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Limited (HSH) decided that they will stop serving shark fin at all their hotel properties from January 1st of 2012, and they announced their intent to "inspire other hospitality companies to do the same" and that "our industry will play a role in helping to preserve the biodiversity of our oceans". Since May in 2010, WWF-Hong Kong has been actively promoting an "Alternative Shark-free Menu Program" to hotels and restaurants across the city.
And while the following story indicates the news is not yet as good as the title indicates an important step in the right direction is also taken in Taiwan: Taiwan to Ban Shark Finning.
Seven Seas tries to serve seafood as much as possible sourced from local small scale fishers, from species categorized as abundant. We are working with our chefs to see what they can further do in support of outreach to suppliers of seafood along the routes, to only provide responsible choices.
For more information on WWF Sustainable Seafood Programs, feel free to contact:
AND WE WISH YOU ALL A GREAT HOLLIDAY SEASON AND HOPE TO SEE YOU ON BOARD (AGAIN) IN A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The Seven Seas - Grahalia Tiying Gading 18, Suite 1 - Jl Tukad Pancoran
Panjer Denpasar 80225 - Bali - Indonesia