there’s pretty much nothing more imressive to see while scuba diving than a manta ray. i remember talking to a dive instructor in egypt who had seen a few here and there. he said it was the most amazing thing he’s ever seen. he said that when you see one, you immediately lose all sense of what you’re doing and where you are.. you’re just completely transfixed on the manta. even sharks dont compare to manta rays. some divers have been so mesmerized by these things that they’ve slowly drifted off after the ray, completely distracted, and then found themselves having to struggle to find their way back.
off the coast of Komodo, there is a dive site where people often spot manta rays. it seemed like kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity, so Keith, Josh and I shelled out hella cash to go dive there (it costs a lot since it takes 4 hours by boat to get there). the boat ride out there seemed to take ages and since we had set off at 5am, i tried to get a little sleep on the boat. i was woken up by being splashed in the face w/ a bunch of water. the ocean was super choppy and the boat was rocking like crazy, sending water spraying onboard. looking out of the boat, i could tell why indonesia had 17,000 islands. there were islands *everywhere*. small islands, tiny islands, medium sized islands. everywhere i looked there would be little mountainous green patches jutting out of the blue ocean. the scenery was fantastic!
eventually we finally got to the dive site. the instructor warned us that there would be some hard currents and that there was also a lot of surge so we should be careful. when we descended, we were instantly surrounded by an insane amount of fish. the divemaster had told us before that this would be like “swimming in fish soup”, and it really was. you almost didnt know which way to look first cause there were so many fish everywehere. this was probably the most beautiful dive i’ve ever done. there was just such a huge variety of colorful fish and also the coral here was just astounding. soon after we started the dive, the divemaster made the sign for manta and pointed off in the distance. try as i could, i just didnt see it. the visibilty wasn’t too great. later on he spotted another manta, but once again, i missed it. i started worrying that i might never get to see one. yeah, the dive was absolutely spectacular even without mantas, but still… dammit, i wanted a manta!
the current down there was really strong just as the instructor had said. and the surge totally rocked us back and forth. we had to kick as hard as we could to move at all when the surge was pulling us back, and then it would just rocket us forward. eventually we got to a part where the current was so strong that we literally couldnt move forward at all. the divemaster told us to ascend. we were really close to some huge rocks jutting out of the water so we had to swim away from them to get to the boat. we swam and swam and swam. when i turned around, the rocks were still just as close. we weren’t getting anywhere. eventually, the boat had to maneuver closer to us and then they threw us a rope which we had to grab and it towed us away from the rocks. by this point, we were already all exhausted and could barely hold on to this rope. once we were away from the rocks, we clung to another rope along the side of the boat and tried to remove our gear. the boat kept rocking up and down though and we were constantly in danger of having the whole thing come down on our heads. luckily everything turned out ok (except for josh losing his weight belt), and soon we were on deck, tired and hungry.
after waiting around for an hour, we did our second dive. i was really worried now that i had come all the way out here and wouldnt get to see any mantas. i would be so pissed! luckily, that’s not what happened. instead, only a couple minutes later, we saw a manta. it was so amazing. these things are absolutely enormous. they are about 15 feet wide!! yes, really, that big. they garcefully travel through the water, slowly raising and lowering their “wings” as they move about. they are so insanely graceful and majestic. watching the manta slowly glide by feels like watching an angel or something else not from this world. seconds later i found myself crashing into some rocks as i had totally lost sense of what i was doing or where i was. it really was a magical experience. a few mintes later we saw another manta slowly glide by. then another. and then another. for the rest of the dive we kept seeing mantas proabbly every 5 minutes or so.
the sign outside the dive shop had said that this might be one of the best dives of your life, and it’s totally true. there really isn’t anything like diving w/ mantas. aside from the mantas, we also saw the hugest morray eel known to mankind. this thing was a bit over 6 feet long, and a couple feet wide. usually when you see eels, you only get to see a tiny bit of their head peeking out from a cave or from under a rock. not this time. we actually got to see the whole thing swimming through the water with its jaws open looking all menacing and vicious.
eventually the dive ended and we sailed home. when the sun set, we noticed all these tiny little phosphorescent dots glowing in the water. some kind of little glowy plant or animal. the cool thing is that it turned on it’s glow when it detected motion, so as our boat sailed, only the ones near the boat’s path lit up. it looked like the boat was shooting off sparks as it swam through the ocean. the view was especially cool when looking from the back of the boat, the whole wake of the boat was glowing and it looked lke we were some kind of rocket ship sending out a blaze behind us…