Swimming with Manta Rays

Southern Princess
John & Irene Hunt
Wed 14 May 2008 03:25
16:43S 151:27W
Thought I might publish some more pictures.
One of the most exciting things we did was swim with some Manta Rays. They are just south of Oponohu Bay on Moorea. These Manta Rays have been trained to be hand fed by the tourists and to see wild creatures with no fear of humans was amazing. Also a little scary as they swim right around you and brush their wings against your arms, legs and body to get your attention.
They swim through the water like a stealth bomber and glide effortlessly towards a new arrival who might have food. The stripes across them is sunlight reflected through the water. They are naturally a soft grey colour.
I have a small Olympus camera which works underwater. Can't see what you are shooting at so I just take lots of blind shots and discard most of them. I have some tuna hidden in my hand which he can smell and he pushes his nose hard into my hands and swims right up my chest if I don't release the fish.
The skin on the wings is as smooth as silk. The general consensus is that it feels like a mushroom skin. The middle of the back is like sandpaper and the tail is also rough. They were the gentlest of creatures except when they were pushing into your hands for the food. Now Huahine on Sunday night has no restaurants open, just a series of small vans lined up down the street. This one had flashing lights so we made for it first.
The crew line up and inspect the menu and our genial host. First time in years we did BYO and had a cheeky merlot with what is the best pizza we have tasted for a while.
Craig likes his!                                                                                Really good pizza!
But this is better. Chip is a chef in real life and has made some great meals for us. This is a salad of raw tuna. Underneath is strips of cucumber which have been marinated in white wine vinegar, tomatoes which have drained for sometime to get rid of most of the juice, avocado, then smothered in raw tuna dressed with sesame seeds and a teriyaki sauce. The natives are friendly and full of smiles!
Canoe racing is big in Tahiti and all the islands. They are out everyday practicing for the annual canoe racing. While we were in Moorea they had a round island canoe race of 32 kilometres for high school kids complete with support craft (they change paddlers every so often by the ones on board jumping over the side while the new paddlers who were waiting in the water swing over the side and take up the paddles without missing a beat) and boats packed with cheers squads. I was at the end (sans camera) and it was most exciting with only about 4 minutes between 1st & 3rd. The changing moods of Huahine, it is raining in the hills while we sit in sunlight.
Southern Princess power reaching at around 10 knots and JH modelling his Panama hat bought in Ecuador the only place to buy real Panama hats.
This is 'Rising Sun' owned by Larry Ellison of Oracle (Americas Cup fame) it's
440' long and if you look closely you can see Southern Princess (57' long) towards
the aft by the rectangular hole. This is a garage door 40' long in which he has
three tenders, 1 a retro Riva all shining black and varnish and another which is a small
landing barge carrying a 4x4 jeep. Our mast is 23m high and it only just tops Rising Sun's funnel.