Manta Manta Manta Ray!
I've been grinning from ear to ear ever since! As some of you will know, seeing a Manta Ray has been Number 1 on my 'Wish List' of 'Things to See Underwater' for some time now [years!].
The day before yesterday, I finally saw, not one, but two!
The visibility was not that good as we dropped into the blue, about a mile out to sea. Felimar, our guide, led us to a Cleaning Station on the edge of the wall. As we settled into position, I peered over the edge of the 600m drop into the black depths. I could see the shadowy shapes of snapper and grouper circling below.
And then we waited...
Out of the gloom she appeared - a majestic 6 metres from wingtip to wingtip. Slowly, but so graceful. She came straight toward me, then turned effortlessly and hung in the water as the tiny cleaning fish rose up to meet her.
If my mouth could have hung open it would have been! I had thought I might get giggly, but I wasn't. I had a moment when I felt my heart beating and a warning voice inside me said 'calm down Jane, don't breathe too fast - you'll burn all your air and get sent up early!' I took a moment to focus on my breathing... and realised I wasn't! 'Breathe! You fool!'
She circled slowly a few more times and then she was gone.
To pass the time I amused myself by winding-up a small clown fish [aka Nemo] that was fiercely defending his Anemone territory. I also took the opportunity to move forward, a little closer to the edge.
Then 'ding ding' - I heard Felimar tapping his tank and looked up - nothing. Looked out to the either side - nothing. Looked ahead again and... aah yes! There she is! [Felimar has good eyes - made a mental note to dive with him again!]
This one was smaller, only [only! Ha!] 4-5 metres. And closer! I was looking straight up at this Manta, so close she was nearly above me. She hovered, turning elegantly on a wingtip, whilst the reef fish cleaned her.
She had a very jealous Remora on her belly who seemed upset at all the commotion! Mottled underbelly, but smooth silvery grey on top, huge gaping mouth. Thicker than I was expecting, more muscular. Bright watchful eyes.
Beautiful. Really, really beautiful.
So what's at the top of my Wish List now? Well, to be honest - Another Manta Ray! But this time I want to swim with them.
Leonardo Da Poggibonsi
2 days ago