Diving the Similans: Manta Ray

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We’d left the Similans proper and gone up north to Koh Bon where we had a few decent dives but without seeing much that made us go “wow.” DC and I chatted with Vincent, the guy behind Black Manta, who joined in for this trip and he suggested we go with him for the next dive. Hope was up when Vincent came back from the recce dive saying that he saw mantas!

We were very hopeful in the first 20 minutes of the dive but the hope started to fade as the current picked up and the visibility got worse. At one point the whole group was clinging for our lives to a coral outcrop and there wasn’t much to do except hold on tight and not turn my head lest the current rip off my mask. And then Vincent started pointing. We strained our eyes trying to figure out what it was and then our eyes focused and we saw the manta looming in the distance.

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It then disappeared and then for quite a while we hung back in a more sheltered area rather than by the outer walls of Koh Bon. Soon, we noticed that the divers in the far group started to get excited and swim out further. The manta was back!

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Calmly and unhurriedly, it came past, flapping its wings sedately. The slow strokes belied the strength and speed of the motion as we had to hurry to keep up with the big ray.

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This one was a beauty and huge too! Its wingspan must have been at least 4 metres.

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It seemed to want to get closer and play with us as it wheeled and came round a few times.

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Each time it seemed as if it was teasing us by leaving and then turning round in a sedate circle to come back and check us out.

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It was almost as if it was saying to us, “You puny humans, look how tiny and helpless you are and look how big and lovely and graceful I am.”

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It came up magnificently close.

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So close in fact that my camera couldn’t take in the whole creature!

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I could see clearly its eyes, mouth flaps and gills as it sailed past. If my regulator wasn’t in my mouth it’ll probably have been agape at this majestic sight.

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Soon it was over and the giant manta ray wheeled for the last time and swept back off into the distance.

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