Manta Rays

Yesterday we dove our usual two dives in the morning, but our dive day did not end there. After a quick one hour ten minute break where we sped to our hotel to change camera batteries and a stop at “Killer Taco” for some killer tacos, we boarded the dive boat once again to go on an evening dive and a night manta dive.

As we all gathered at the dock, I noticed that Muray and I are by far the oldest folks going out on the manta dive. This is a much different group of divers than the morning, where the average age is around 55 or so. The main topic of conversation with this group is honeymoons and how long the young couples have been together or married. Needless to say, no one asked us how long we had been married. Wouldn’t they be surprised at the answer!

The captain pilots the boat south towards the Sheraton Hotel on Keauhou Bay, about a forty minute ride. The plan is to do the first dive so we end the dive just before dark. The second dive will start in dark. On this dive we will all be carrying 800 lumina dive lights (very bright).

Our dive master informs us that we will go to the manta cleaning station and maybe there will be a manta there. We giant stride into the depths and off we go. We are not at the cleaning station very long before a manta cruises by. This one is Coie, a female well known to the dive crew. She passes by us so closely she almost grazes us with her wingtip which spans about four meters across.

She cruises by about three times, ┬ánot at all afraid of us and our bubbles. As she passes by, I think to myself “I don’t need to do the night dive now, I have seen the best manta siting right now.

Once back on the boat, warmed up and fed some food, Ian, one of the dive masters gave us an informative talk about the manta. I did not know that they can live between 70 and 90 years. A couple of the females that ply these waters were first documented back in the 1970s. These grand ladies are about 60 years old now and they are still thriving.

Unfortunately, on our second dive, no mantas came to feed off the plankton that we were attracting with our circle of high powered dive lights, but we had four fly bys by mantas while out for a swim to look around. Crabs were out, along with the pencil urchins, lobsters and a few brave fish.

We encountered mantas on both our dives so it was worth it. I would recommend this dive set to divers heading to Kona. These graceful creatures are a wonder to watch in their own environment.

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