I’m one of the lucky guys who has had the pleasure of diving with Manta Ray’s in big number on a few occasions both on the island of Yap and also in the Maldives. Last month I spent 12 days on a live-aboard in Raja Ampat, West Papua to get the opportunity again to dive with a group of amazing those animals.
One of the dive sites is called Manta Sandy, yes you guess right, a place for Manta’s. The number of Manta on this site was well over 10 and often we had 4-6 of them around us in the same time. I did behave the first dive and just sat on the bottom to watch and so did the second dive go until just before it was time to slowly accent to the surface. As already left the bottom I saw two Manta’s coming right to me, the first with the usual white the belly and the second completely black that just followed. I stopped, hold my breath to avoid scaring them with my bubbles. They passed just on top of me at a very close range and as they passed I span around and in the same time twisted a bit to get a better view as they passed. This movement seems to trigger an interest in the first ray as she turned around with the black one followed close behind. She got right up to me and had a good look at me, its something else when you look right into the eye of such a big animal half a meter away. Now the dance started and for the next 6-7 min we span around, swam belly to belly (mine being bigger thanks to San Miguel and Bintang beer). She was right on top of me to a few seconds later right below me. Our friend, the black one followed nicely behind and more then once gave the two animals me a gentle tap with their wings. I was so close most of the time that I could easy touched them but of course I didn’t, I was there with their approval not to be misused. The rest of the group of divers just watch the dance and fortunately there was more than one photographers in the group so I have plenty of pictures. You can see some of them here, thanks to Lee Black and Helmut Trinczek-Gaertner.