It’s our second day at sea, and this morning we had an early start. By 7 o’clock this morning we were already in our dive equipment and ready to enter the water to search for a many ray.

This divesite is known as Manta Alley. The water was so cold that, despite the early hour, I was wide awake as soon as we entered the water. My dive computer showed 24°C!

We descended to the sea floor at about 25m and began searching for mantas. We didn’t have long to wait, and suddenly four mantas swam above us and towards their cleaning station. A cleaning station is a place where mantas like to hang out with other mantas and let small cleaner fish clean their bodies. The cleaner fish eat bacteria and parasites from the manta’s skin, and help to keep them healthy.

After counting the number of mantas and collecting identification photos, we decided to stay and hope that more mantas would visit this location. Our prayers were answered, and soon another five mantas were cruising around the cleaning station.

Occasionally a manta approached me, and seemed to steal a glance. I think they are a little curious about us! And it didn’t stop there. Another three mantas came out of the blue and joined the group.

Today I learned that a group of manta is called a “fever”. And we really had manta fever today! This was my memorable experience with manta rays, and it was fascinating.

The next divesite was very unique. It is called “German flag”. A strange name, but as we sailed closer we could see why. The rocks in the cliff behind the divesite are coloured red, black and yellow. They look just like a natural flag. Our manta survey continued. Unfortunately we only found one manta, but this one was a huge female.

We decided to go back to Manta Alley. We were all hoping for a chance to see another group of manta rays. It was the beginning of the rishing tide, and as we descended we could see lots of tiny creatures swimming near to the sea floor. These were the zooplankton that the mantas like to eat! And there were another 11 manta rays hanging out and enjoying this food. It was super exciting to see so many mantas today!

Our day wasn’t over yet. One more dive, this time at Padar Kecil. We saw three mantas on the surface before our dive, but underwater we only found a whitetip reef shark. Never mind, this was a great way to end our dives.

Finally we came to the beach, and climbed the hill on Pulau Padar to watch the sunset. I took lots of photos, so that I always remember how beautiful this place is.

Padar sunset

Sunset over Padar Island

 

 

Corina Ruswanti

Corina Ruswanti

Corina has a B.Sc Marine Science from Diponegoro University, Indonesia. Her undergraduate research used DNA markets to investigate the genetic diversity of corals in Raja Ampat, West Papua. In 2017 Corina produced an award winning short environmental documentary and was selected by the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative to join an environmental filmmaking workshop in […]