Location: Nuku Hiva, Marquesas
Tonight at squeeze, there was such a wonderful, excited chatter as the Argo crew had just had the opportunity to swim with a whole …fever… of manta rays. They reminded everyone of the true beauty of nature as they were so graceful as they swam in circles around us, spinning upside down as they fed on all of the plankton in the water.
Before the sun came over the mountains, several of the staff hopped in the dinghy for a quick reconnaissance dive to scope out the area for dive activities through the next few days. We spotted a large manta ray on the surface and got very excited! Unfortunately, after two short dives, we hadn’t seen any manta rays underwater. We didn’t lose hope, though- we knew they were out there! Back on board, the day started brightly at early with a beautiful view of Baie de Taiohae in the sunlight. After breakfast, we got back into the swing of dive training. The Divemaster candidates went out to complete their deep dive, and those who were doing the Rescue course started doing the classwork for that certification. Ivan and Alexa are already certified passed Rescue, so they went out for a fun dive and were the first to spot mantas underwater! They saw 4-5 inside the next little cove, so it confirmed what we already suspected. They were out there, and there was more than one!
After lunch, many people had free time to study and rest, while Sophie, Bianca, Sam, and Drake went out for a fun dive, and the manta trend continued. They saw at least 40 manta rays all swimming around in circles, barrel feeding, and coming very close to them without fear or hesitation. They stayed with the mantas for about 10 minutes before continuing their dive within the cove. A little while later, a few staff went out for another recon dive and found the HUGE group of mantas that had come into the bay. The visibility was fairly low, but that was largely because of how much manta food (plankton) was floating in the water. We didn’t mind the trade-off one bit. They were vortex feedings, barrel feeding, swimming just at the surface and down to the depths. It was one of the most AMAZING dives any of us had ever done! There were dozens of reef mantas- too many to count-, especially with their constant movement. Once we saw what a unique and special opportunity this was, we high-tailed it back to Argo and packed everyone who hadn’t already seen mantas that day into the dinghies to go snorkeling with these gentle giants. Everyone came back joyful and excited, talking all about these beautiful creatures. I have been diving for eight years in many wonderful places, but this experience was one of the best days of my life, hands down! For almost everyone on board, it was the first time seeing manta rays, and what a first time it was.
Pictured: Baie de Taiohae in the morning sunshine; Ivan with a manta ray; Jenna with a manta ray.