As regulars with many years of diving experience around Manta Ray’s it can sometimes be easy to forget that being in the open ocean with one of the worlds great marine creatures for the first time can be a bit of an intimidating experience for a quite a lot of people!
We have written this post as a guide for what to expect when you’re about to slide on the mask and fins and drop over the side of the boat into the big blue sea below to meet with these guys.
The sight of a large dark shadow in the water can get your heart racing but its important not to feel threatened as Manta Ray’s do not have stinging barbs like stingrays do, and feed only micrsocopic plankton which they suck in through their huge mouths before filtering via the gills.
Manta’s are not shy
Whether it is many years of exposure to swimmers and divers around Nusa Penida or just a natural inclination towards curiousity, these intelligent fish are not afraid of approaching you and will swim directly in your direction, often with their mouths wide open. The sight of this can certainly be scary the first time you experience it but we suggest you do not panic or try to swim away. The manta’s have a high level of awareness and will alter their course once they detect you in their path.
Alternatively a great way to see the manta in full flight is to dive below its oncoming path and look up to watch as it glides over the top you like a giant flying carpet!
Manta’s often swim in groups
Manta’s are social creatures and you will often find them swimming together in a group of two or three at a time. They group together this way when they find a particularly rich stream of plankton along an ocean current line when the tides and water movement converge and the food sources are abundant.
Manta’s will often swim in circular pattern up and down the areas where the plakton is most prolific. If they are present in one area then often the best way to see them is not to chase them too far but observe their movement pattern and position yourself for when they glide around into a turn and swim back in the other direction.
Am I harming the Manta’s by Swimming with them?
The answer to this question is no, as long as you are not touching or physically interfering with the Manta’s in any way then you are not doing them any harm. Manta’s are intelligent creatures and will act in their own self preservation as required. By swimming with Manta’s you are helping to raise their profile as an important tourism and economic asset for Indonesia and because of this newfound fame many steps have recently been taken to eliminate the illegal fishing trade in Manta’s gills.
So bring your camera’s, record, enjoy and share this amazing experience with the rest of the world!