This story was originally written on June 27, 2016, during my week-long liveaboard diving trip to Komodo National Park, where my diving buddies and I clocked in 16 dives.
On our last dive of the trip this morning we went back to Makassar Reef, a well-known Manta Ray cleaning station in Komodo National Park, in hopes of crossing paths with these gentle giants. We had an amazing dive at the same site yesterday on perfect conditions. The current was extremely strong, but we saw dozens and dozens of Mantas flying by throughout the dive. So naturally, we expected a repeat of something similar.
But today… it wasn’t a good time. To bring out the Mantas we needed the strong current – there was barely any this morning. We finned through empty, flat, dead reefs without seeing a single thing for a long while. We saw three Mantas for very brief moments as they were passing by, and a rather large White-tip Shark that none of us were particularly excited about.
After the dive, we climbed back up to the dinghy and took off our fins, feeling a bit dejected that our last dive of the trip was not a memorable one. Just then, our Dive Master Anto spotted some Manta wings flapping on the surface of a nearby reef. He quickly directed the dinghy out towards the direction of the Mantas. Once we got closer, we realized there were many, many more Mantas swimming very close to the surface, with one gliding right under our dinghy. Anto instructed us to quickly put our gears back on since we still had plenty of air left, and just dive.
So dive in we did.
Once we were underwater, we saw five Mantas circling around us – a few giant ones and one smaller Black Manta. We tried to not get in their way as we sank lower and lower, deeper and deeper, and just floated away while watching the Mantas play with each other, circling above us many times before they finally flew out into the blue for one last time.
I love Manta Rays. I will never ever get bored of watching their graceful glide.
The moment probably lasted less than ten minutes, but I will remember it forever as the reason why I love diving. The truth is when it comes to diving no one can ever guarantee what you will see underwater. But what I can guarantee is that when you do see it, it will be an amazing adrenaline-filled moment, forever imprinted in your memories.