and picture by Richard Moore
SIGNAL drum sounds to let everyone know - the mantas are
in the channel.
sends a lot of people scurrying for the small boats that
will take them out to watch the giant marine creatures swim
by as they feed on plankton.
tiny sea creatures flow through a narrow gap between Drawaqa
and Naviti islands and the mantas swim against the current
enjoying a good meal.
current can be very strong – too much to swim against for
long even with fins – so the boats drop you in an area where
you can snorkel in comfort to see the mantas and then go
into the deeper channel to be whisked away down to where
the same boats now wait.
Before we enter the water the local guides tell us not to
chase the mantas. Stay still and they will pass by and then
come around again to check you out. If you chase them you
can frighten them away.
with that in mind and camera ready it is over the side into
a slightly choppy sea.
the bubbles have cleared the head moves around to try to
see a manta ray. One is swimming away down below and behind
me. It seems to be going slowly but against the current
it is actually moving gracefully with speed and power and
is soon out of sight in the slightly murky conditions.
Ah well, hopefully there’ll be another along soon.
In the meantime my eyes are attracted to a myriad of bright-cloured
fish that teem around the coral reefs on either side of
the channel. Man, there are masses of them, zipping around
with nary a care in the world … ocean … sea.
have gone too far and am now in the current. Wheeee this
being pushed along at a great rate of knots – I can’t swim
against so I go with the flow, so to speak.
my camera out steadily in front it is a real buzz whooshing
through schools of fish that part for you as if by communal
fun park rides, this is way cooler.
my mask I can see the boats up ahead and groups of snorkelers
holding on to a trailing rope line to make for the boat’s
ladder in an orderly manner.
dear, missed the rope, oh here is the ladder. Lucky me.
Once everyone is back on board the boat cruises back to
the head of the channel so we can try again.
don’t chase the mantas comes the order.
everyone nods, before disappearing over the side again.
time we are lucky, well sort of, as a manta ray is heading
our way. It could be six to eight feet across and looks
of a sudden my – and my GoPro camera’s - vision is filled
with bubbles, flailing legs, flapping arms and even more
manta powers away and I watch it disappear into the cloud
of plankton from in between a forest of fins.
On a family website I cannot tell you what I said through
my snorkel, although I’m certain everyone around me knew
I was not best pleased with their antics that went directly
against instructions and shortened our experience through
what I can only describe as selfish idiocy.
bit later our media party went out again to try to find
mantas without hordes of flippering nongs around, but the
graceful lady had decided enough was enough and was long
looks likely there will be limits set in the future about
how many people can see the mantas at one time and that
is a good thing, for both the snorkelers and the creatures
Despite that could I recommend time in the water with them?
Moore was in Fiji courtesy of Barefoot Manta Resort, Awesome
Adventures Fiji and Vinaka Fiji.