It’s the start of the final week of our internship program, and we’re beginning to feel sad. But today’s survey locations cheered us up: Batu Bolong and Karang Makassar.

As always, Batu Bolong was full of beautiful sea creatures. We recorded several Napoleon wrasse in our eco-logbooks, and also saw bluefin trevelly hunting for food, colourful damselfish, and scorpionfish sitting on the reef. We even found an octopus hiding in a hole and peering out!

Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)

Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)

Octopus

A camouflaged octopus hides in the reef

Our second dive was at Karang Makasar and Manta Point. Before the dive Andy told us that he had already phoned the mantas and that there were 10 hiding on the site for us to find. Of course we didn’t believe him, as there haven’t been many mantas here recently.

As usual, we did a formation to look for mantas. Dhanmo and Gerald led, with Niomi and Ayu on the left and Tami and I on the right. Andy and Dita stayed behind, watching and evaluating us.

And then we found mantas!

The first manta came from behind us, on the right side close to Tami and me. Then we saw three mantas doing a manta train – a courtship dance with one female at the front and males behind. Next we found one manta swimming alone, and we realised it was a pregnant female.

Then finally on our safety stop we had an amazing experience. Another three mantas in a manta train swam straight towards us, and danced directly above our heads. We took great ID shots! And when we checked the “fingerprints” back on the boat we realised that one of the males was the same individual that we’d seen in the first manta train!

Seven mantas in total today! We wondered why they had suddenly come back to Karang Makassar. It is almost new moon, and from our data analysis we know that more mantas are seen at this time. Or maybe Andy was right, and he really did call the manta before the dive!

Manta train

A courtship train of three mantas

Evi Ihsan

Evi Ihsan

Evi has a B.Sc. Marine Science and Oceanography from the University of Diponogoro. After successfully completing MIP-2014 he was selected to join The Nature Conservancy’s expedition team as a Coral Reef Fish Specialist during a Rapid Ecological Assessment of the Savu Sea Marine Protected Area. Evi is currently the Monitoring and Surveillance Officer for WWF-Indonesia’s […]