Swimming back to the liveaboard boat on the Great Barrier Reef, I became lazy, put back on my mask and snorkel and rolled back over into the water. That was when a huge dark shadow moved towards me, underneath me. My brain was slow to respond, but when recognition registered my face popped out and I started screaming ‘MANTA RAY! MANTA. RAY.’ My two dive buddies frantically swam back in time to catch the blur gliding away. The visibility wasn’t the best; it moved by so quickly. Yet everyone on board assured me I should be thrilled because it was incredibly rare to sight a manta, at least on the GBR.
Flash forward a few weeks to diving in Komodo National Park off Flores, Indonesia. On the ride out that morning our group pondered what the chances would be of spotting a manta ray since this area was known to be a manta ray cleaning station. We had no idea what was in store for us. The first time our divemaster pointed into the abyss and made the manta signal I was blown away at the ~4m manta gliding behind us. As we approached the 10th sighting, I lost count, but my awe had in no way diminished towards these underwater giants. For minutes upon minutes we’d hover just above the floor in the strong current and watch as one after another checked us out, circled for a cleaning or with one quick up and down flap of their wings disappeared into the blue. An incredibly special dive to say the least!
Here are just a few of the gentle giants we saw while diving. The last guy is my favorite!