This photo is one of a series of photos from one of the best manta interactions I have had in the last 10 years. It was the 27th of Dec 2013 and I was in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia at a site called Manta Sandy. The group of people that I was with were a large family of snorkelers who were super excited at the chance of encountering a few mantas if they were lucky (little were they to know!). We all jumped in close to the “cleaning station” at this famous dive site and drifted along the coral reef while interacting with a group of 5 or 6 mantas that were actively swimming only a few metres away from us. The water was full of small jellies and other planktonic goodness that the mantas were feeding on and they didn’t seem to mind our attention at all. After being in the water for around 30 minutes, and encountering at least 10 different mantas, the group tired of the swimming and decided to jump back on the chase boat for a few cool beverages while talking excitedly about the great manta action they had just witnessed. While the family basked in the sun, myself and the resident dive ops manager of the boat, Alex, kept a sharp eye out on the water surface to see if we could see any further manta activity. Sure enough, as the boat drifted across the channel from the manta cleaning station, we could spot plenty of manta wing tips breaking the surface. After a few minutes of watching the manta activity from a little ways away, and noticing that the guests were not in any hurry to head back to the mother ship, Alex and I asked if we could jump in the water again to “investigate” the mantas that we could see in the distance (Being the photographer that I am I of course brought my camera as well). Within seconds of jumping off the boat we were surrounded by what must have been a minimum of 30 mantas rays feeding at or near the surface scooping up the rich plankton and jellies in the water. Of course we immediately told everyone on the boat to jump back in the water and everyone had the most incredible experience of being surrounded by these magnificent creatures in a once in a lifetime opportunity! I won’t forget that snorkel anytime soon and every time I head back to Raja in December I am constantly looking to repeat it!
Nikon D7000 in Aquatica Housing, 10.5mm lens, f8, 1/250, ISO 400, natural light