Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mantas run (swim) amok!

All week we’d been chatting about finally getting another dive under the belt. Ever since a mate of ours had mentioned his chance experience with Manta rays off one of the resorts, not even an hour’s dhoni ride from Male. Phone calls had been made and boats booked, so it was with teary eyes that we watched the rain bucketing down on Thursday evening.

Nonetheless, we were given the green light early the next day and loaded onto a dive boat along with a few locals, Austrian Joe, Scottish Ewen and a Miss Perry-Bower from somewhere in Suffolk. The trip out to Manta Point (or Lanka Point if you aren’t lucky enough to see them joked one of the instructors) went by in a flash and before we knew it, we had been briefed and suited up for the first dive of the day.

Austrian Joe, this young lass from Suffolk and I were teamed off with Wadhook and away we went. No sooner had we begun our descent than these docile monsters of the ocean began floating past. Even the black-tipped reef sharks circling just off the coral drop-off weren’t enough to distract our gaze from what must be one of the more calming experiences in life. The way these creatures glide along effortlessly on those massive ‘wings’, front mandibles quietly brushing plankton into their mouths, side eyes ever alert! We were pretty much surrounded by Parrots, Orientals, Butterflies, Clowns and Travellies – but not once did my mind wander from the outside chance that we might just see a few more Manta. And they didn’t disappoint. No fewer than 5 huge rays visited our ‘lookout’ around the feeding station, the most of which get so close that they come across as almost tame.

Our tank limits were reached far too quickly and with the tapping of his metal prod, Wadhook signaled for us to ascend. Miss Suffolk 2008 seemed to pay no heed to the 3m stop off though and both myself and our instructor had to grab her feet to keep her from bursting through the surface a good few minutes too early.

Once back on the boat, the heavens opened once more – drenching us, but also putting the cap on some incredible diving and a memorable morning amongst the natural elements.

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