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Location: Wayag

Hello, hello outside world!

After an adventurous evening transit into our anchorage, waking up in Wayag was an absolute TREAT. The chefs were kind in providing an abrupt 6 am smoke-induced fire alarm wake-up call; without it, we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the beautiful rainbow of sunrise colors. The rest of the morning was filled with bird songs and blacktip reef shark sightings (a minimum of five have been circling Argo since we arrived) until breakfast crepes were done and all mayhem set forth. Nutella! Bananas! Honey! So many toppings from which to choose (lemon + sugar has proved its superiority). So many toppings spilled onto the chart house. The park rangers then paid us a short visit to ensure our permits were in order (shout out to Google Translate). Exciting: it is likely that we are the only boat out here. Exploration galore!

Argo was in need of a little love (especially her cabins), so a bit of a spruce up and clean sheets (!!!) were greatly appreciated by all aboard. Even more, appreciated were the subsequent ocean swims. Most of the students made their way to a nearby beach only exposed at low tide, while several of the staff took out Nopes for a snorkel site reconnaissance mission. The dinghy definitely provides the most advantageous view for large animals – Gabe and I casually spotted a young manta doing backflips at the surface and several large turtles cruised by throughout our voyage. Motoring through inlets to lagoons within towering limestone islands, we passed disparate coral bommies in sandy slopes dropping down to the dark depths below. Apparently, many of the dive sites here run along with these sharp drops, heavily influenced by tidal currents shooting through networks of channels. Still, on the hunt for the perfect afternoon snorkel site, recon team #2 returned to the sea after lunch. While oceanography class finished their chemical unit, we discovered the most amazing coral-filled cove just to the west of our anchorage (ventured through a few max-flood tide swirly twirly eddies in the process). Huge stands of highly branching staghorn coral Acropora and Turbinaria (lettuce coral) absolutely covered the descending slope just outside of the cove, while thick Montipora (rice coral) and table-forming Acroporids piled on top of one another further inside the sheltered shallows. We even scouted out a trail entrance for a hike to complete in a day or so (fingers crossed for Birds of Paradise)! Everyone LOVED it. Personally, I tried to note every single species of fish I saw (Raja Ampat has the highest diversity of fish in the WORLD)…we’ll see how that translates on paper. We’ll be headed back there tomorrow for further exploration and likely even a dive or two.

The day ended nicely with a gorgeous sunset, calming moonrise, and heaps of fried rice. We shared favorite wild(ish) animal encounters/interactions during squeeze; hopefully, everyone’s lists will grow after this semester. We’re all excited to see what the rest of Raja and Indonesia have in store. Stay tuned!

-C$

P.S. Love and miss you, Austen, Mom, Dad, and Brian! Give Lily so many snuggles for me.

Pictured:
1. Argo sitting pretty inside Wayag’s western lagoon.
2. Biodiversity!
3. A happy little clownfish (Amphiprion percula) family swaying in their host anemone.

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