After a long 45 min boat ride to the location, through rolling waves and rain; the seasickness medication, the pressure point band, the saltine crackers, and the copious cups of Ginger tea I have been consuming to try to calm my landlocked stomach are not having its desired effect. I am about to die- or at least about to feed the fish my regurgitated dinner. I am feeling completely miserable and it’s a pity, because in about 10 secs or faster, if I can help it, I will be crossing another item of the Bucket List and jumping in the water to dive with some pretty awesome creatures- Mantas.
As opposed to my petrifying and completely unjustified fear of sharks, I am looking forward to being inches from 10-20 feet Mantas. Since I started diving almost a decade ago, I have wanted to see these magnificent creatures in the wild, and it just happened that we are staying a week in Kona.
I make my way into the water, bypassing any diver etiquette and completely abandoning my dive buddy, Mr. GoodLife, in the futile hope that once I am under water, my stomach will stop its fuss and the world can be right again.
Once submerged I concentrate on breathing and relax. Salvation!
It’s not even 20 mins into our dive that I spot the first guest of honor, gently cruising by, with no worry or curiosity on its way to dinner.
We see a couple more Mantas dive by and I am at awe of their gracefulness and sheer size. I can’t wait until we can witness their night feeding.
We ascend for our decompression time (break between dives) and once again I am in seasickness hell. If it wasn’t getting dark and if I wasn’t completely petrified of looking like a turtle hanging from a buoy behind the boat- a tiger shark’s favorite food, and we hadn’t had sightings of 15 feet tiger sharks just a couple days ago, I would throw myself overboard right now.
Since my brain has not completely stopped working yet- then I try to hang on for dear life for the next 45 mins.
I make it just in time to once again submerge into the pitch dark Hawaiian waters to join other divers. I have a small flashlight on my left hand and my puny camera in my right. I know it’s pretty unlikely I will get any good pictures with the equipment I have. At night, underwater, I will be lucky if I can even see the shutter button, but just in case, I want to be prepared, my underwater camera has become part of my standard diving equipment.
As soon as I jump in the water I see them, a dozen ( we counted 11), performing a feeding ballet that is mesmerizing. I tried my best to follow our group and make my way towards the bottom where other divers are also experiencing this unreal event. Mr. GoodLife and I find a spot of rock to steady ourselves against and try to stay away from spiky sea urchins.
We point our flashlights towards the surface and are blessed by a visit from the Mantas. They keep coming, swirling right in front of us, open mouthed, acrobatically maneuvering around us to feed in a mix of pirouettes and somersaults. Several came so close I had to duck and a couple clipped my head with their wings.
The ballet lasted for an hour and if it wasn’t for our pesky human limitation to need air to breathe, I could have watched them for days, in fact I would have traded all the morning dives we did in Kona for more time in the water with the Mantas.
In their presence, I realized I could never cross this experience out my Bucket List, because only one dive will never be enough.
My apologies for the grainy crappy pictures, but again they were taken in pitch black water, with only flashlights.