MANTA DIVING

Yap and Palau

Like soldiers we drop to the edge of the ridge instantly and stare up into the gloom. A Manta passes over my head and then does a back flip. Then another and another- we are inundated with mantas in the shallow water. They are so prolific that I can barely count them quickly enough

A manta uses its cephalic fin and takes the tail of its mate.  Three  then four appear, holding position amongst the cleaning fish. A surprisingly fat emperor seems to be holding sway over all the others at the cleaning station. And then a slightly smaller blue fin trevally speeds up and swings all over the reef, shooting past me and sending the smaller fish scattering.

The mantas come back and circle us in a lazy manner. The come so close, clearly habituated to Humans, and I see the cleaner wrasse on the tail of the fish. The mantas get cleaned and circle lazily. They do not seem to be bothered by humans at all. They swim up to me, around me, and eyeball me and then lazily swim off. These creatures are not small, but they have smaller sisters and brothers. This is our third Manta Ray Dive since we have arrived, and without doubt the most spectacular.

SHARKS!

One by one, we roll off the boat and drop down to the ledge at 30ft. The wall to my right is sheer and stunning. A plethora of small fans protrude off it. There are no sharks to be seen, but I wait for Colin to do his work and snap away at the wall. Eventually  four small reef sharks appear but the wall at Big Bend is too beautiful to ignore.

I call them back with bottle and they cruise sedately around us for a while before leaving us to drift off. We go slowly  with the current towards the southern most tip of YAP to the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and the Philippine sea.  We have done many dives in Yap, been surrounded by jackfish Huge grey reef’s,  scores of barracuda and mantas-  but what remains with me is our slow ascent on big bend, to the top of the reef. The surge playing with us over a series of cracks. I put my SMB up on this final dive and sway in the surge wondering  which ocean I am in.”

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