Friday, 27 May 2011

Bagsta and Manta Rays:)

 Video footage at the end of this post:)

As many of you know I have recently been to the middle of the Indian ocean for a trip. My main goal on this trip was to swim with manta rays in their own habitat and to see how these great giant creatures react to us as humans in their world.
It is currently the South West monsoon season in the Maldives so trying to get a day where visibility was going to be good was quite tricky. The trips out to Manta Point were only twice a week as well and so I was gonna have to have a good dollop of good fortune.
Well I picked a day, charged a camera grabbed me snorkelling stuff and headed off to the jetty to get on the boat.

 As with all trips of this kind I was also at the mercy of my fellow man/woman who I shall henceforth call morons!After around a 40 minute boat ride we arrived at an area of the ocean called Manta Point, this is an area known to be frequented by Manta Rays. The first thing that one of the spotters saw was a 9 metre long Whale Shark and he indicated that we should jump into the water.
I was second in on this first occasion and as I finished adjusting my mask and looking down I got my first and only glance of this huge gentle giant before the "morons" all dived in and started splashing about and swimming down to try and touch it despite being told not too. Funny thing is, the Whale Shark fucked off very quickly.
Everybody back on the boat. A Ray was spotted and everybody jumped in the water, myself included and started to chase the Ray, erm, maybe not..... it's a Manta Ray and I think it can out swim you. Yet the "morons" thrashed about chasing this poor thing before everybody back on the boat.
This was getting tedious and the same thing happened at the next sighting.
I was starting to lose hope and patience.
The next sighting I was second to last to jump in when a second spotter saw a ray off the opposite side of the boat and suggested I jump in that side.
As I adjusted my mask and started to breath through the snorkel a shadowy apparition glided past me not 10 metres away. I momentarily forgot to breathe but my body reminded me to do so just in time.

I was around 20-30 metres away from the thrashing idiots who were off chasing another ray in the opposite direction, the guide looked at me and gestured if I was ok, I made the ok symbol back and so I was left alone.I was aware of 3 maybe 4 large Mantas below and to the side of me sweeping around and up and down, I simply lay floating in the ocean like a the big whale like thing that I am. It appeared that they were checking me out and circling me as if to ask "why aint he thashing about like the other morons?" closer and closer they swept by me till they were close enough to touch, but I didn't, I was so in awe of these massive gracefull animals I couldnt move.

One in particular glided past me and as it got about 3 metres past turned and came back towards me, It was so big that if id curled myself up into a ball I would have easily fitted in its mouth and Im a big chap. it did this 3 times seeming more and more inquisitive as to why I was leaving it alone and I like to think that I maybe shared a moment with this gracefull giant. Maybe it was the suncream and salt water dripping into my eyes that caused the couple of tears to roll unchecked down my face in my mask or maybe it was something else, I don't really know but I have a whole new respect for these magnificent creatures and a whole new level of disrespect for many of my own race.
I checked out of the water to where the boat was and it appeared I was the last person still in the water, rather than have the "morons" come over and thrash about at my new found friends I decided to swim back to the boat and climb aboard with the biggest smug bastard grin on my face you have ever seen

Peace out y'all The Bagstaxxx

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