Great news today, as all the team are heading into the field for manta surveys. We joined three manta heroes – Flores Dive Center, Uber Scuba and Wicked Diving – and mantas here we come!
I joined Wicked Diving today, together with Luci, Niomi and Andy. Our first stop was Sebayur Kecil, where we headed straight to the deeper parts of the dive site where mantas are sometimes seen. Sebayur is a beautiful dive site, with a sandy bottom at around 15 meters and a colorful reef wall. A great place to start the day, but we did not record any logbook species.
Next we visited Mawan, and before the dive it was our duty to give a manta briefing to the guests and share some tips on diving with mantas responsibly. One moment I will never forget, just as we finished giving the briefing, a manta jumped from the water just next to the boat. An amazing sight, and a promising sign for our manta survey. But unfortunately we did not find any mantas on that dive, though we did record some hawksbill turtles and whitetip reef sharks.
Next we moved on to our favourite spot for manta surveys – the mighty Karang Makassar or Manta Point. As we came closer to the dive site, we could see lots of mantas on the surface. They were swimming against the current and getting very close to our boat, some even swimming beneath us as we drifted. A good sign, time to get in the water.
We started the dive with a negative entry, descending quickly to get close to the bottom before drifting too far. Near the bottom is the best place to watch the mantas without disturbing them. We saw five mantas, but it was difficult to hold our position and take ID photos. You know the current is strong when you see mantas swimming backwards not forwards! We also recorded 3 whitetip reef sharks lying on the seafloor at 18m, and a giant marbled ray!
Our second team today were Haries, Gerald, and Lia who joined Uber Scuba to dive at Karang Makassar and Tatawa Besar. They recorded 2 mantas at Karang Makassar. They also found lots of nudibranch at Tatawa Besar, because Uber Scuba’s divemaster, Erik, is very good at identifying nudibranch!
Meanwhile Muti and Dita joined Flores Diving Centre to survey Sebayur Kecil, Karang Makassar, and Batu Bolong. Muti and Dita recorded 3 mantas and blacktip reef sharks at Karang Makassar. Batu Bolong is one of Komodo’s famous dive site, and Muti proved it today! She recorded a pregnant whitetip reef shark, hawksbill turtle and a Napoleon wrasse. She also saw a huge moray eel, orangutan crabs, lionfish, and stonefish.