Manta Ray Bay - and Manta Rays! 17 10.289S 177 11.240E

Mike and Liz Downing
Fri 24 Aug 2012 01:32
Yes, we finally saw the manta rays and I managed to swim with them, so mission accomplished! We spent 3 hours this morning in the pass where they feed. This time the current was running fast and they clearly like swimming through the pass against it. Being filter feeders, it must make feeding a lot easier if the water is moving fast towards them. Our operation consisted of spotting a ray, getting the dinghy ahead of it and getting in the water and drifting down to meet it head on, with mask,snorkel and camera, then try and turn and keep up with it. That's only possible for a very short while before the current overwhelms you and the ray effortlessly heads off into the distance. Then it's find out where Liz has drifted to in the dinghy and wait to be picked up and do it all over again.They appear to be swimming so slowly and gracefully, yet easily swim against the current. For us it's hard work and we headed back to the boat exhausted. Although due to the strength of the current each encounter was brief, swimming through the pass in such a strong current really is like flying and was a great experience on it's own.
All very blue as the camera is not up to long distance shots, but having been dropped by the
dinghy some distance ahead of the ray, you just see this shape coming towards you. 
It's then very clearly a ray and its time to get off as many shots as possible before it glides past
and the current takes you in the opposite direction.
It's difficult to estimate how big they are, but this one was a lot bigger than me!
It disappears into the current and it's time to figure where I am now, and where the dinghy's
got to!
Photos of the nearby reef which had a surprising amount of bluey/mauve corals.
The plate corals can be very big. This is an average sized one and we've seen them much bigger.