Manta Ray Bay
Tuesday 8th September 2015
Distance run: 11 nmiles
Although it was to be a short trip today, we lifted the anchor before 0900 as we wanted to be anchored again before high water when the manta rays would be in the Tokatokanu Passage, between Naviti Island and Drawaqa Island. We motored down the west coast of Naviti and anchored in the lee of Drawaqa Island late morning in an area known as ‘Manta Bay’. This is quite an open bay and is known to be rolly, but there was little wind or swell so we kept our fingers crossed it wouldn’t be too uncomfortable. In any case, we decided it would be worth it if we saw the mantas.
Mid-afternoon, just before high tide, we set off in the dinghy towards the pass. We had a wait of about an hour, and were just beginning to think we would have to give up when we spotted a black shape in the water. As it came closer, it was clear that it was a large manta ray, so Steve donned his kit and in he went. I stayed in the dinghy and watched from above. Once the manta had swum past Steve, I went and picked him up and then took him further ahead so that he could get back in the water and wait for the ray to pass him again. We repeated this a few times, and Steve had a fantastic view of the ray, which had a remora fish attached to its underside. This fish cleans the ray by feeding off it.
We spotted a dark shape in the water.
The manta ray had an enormous wing span. The remora is visible on its underside.
We were so pleased to have been able to get so close to this ray, and another that followed after. Steve would never have been able to keep up with them swimming along, so hopping in and out of the dinghy proved an excellent way to see as much of them as possible. Truly breathtaking.