Awe-inspiring Creatures

On honeymoon, my husband and I went out with a dive/snorkel group to a spot about a mile offshore from the Kona airport. It was just settling into darkness when we arrived at the spot. They gave each of us snorkel equipment, a wetsuit and a halogen flashlight for use in the water. We all jumped in and swam out into the area between the boats to position ourselves over a group of scuba divers sitting at the bottom- about 20 feet down- shining lights up. We shone our lights into the water and waited. Gradually, the bright light drew swarms of plankton, which I could hear crackling in the water and feel brushing against my skin. It wasn't even two minutes before at least three manta rays- all well over ten feet across, each weighing as much as a car- came to feed. They were beautiful and peaceful, and these kinds of rays are virtually harmless to humans (that is, unless they run into you- ouch!) as they have no stinger on their tail and only a tiny row of teeth on the bottom of their mouths which serve little to no actual purpose. They glided and swam all around and underneath us. I kid you not when I say that when they did backflips while feeding, they came mere inches away from us. I would not have had to fully extend my arm to touch one of them, but I was too intimidated by their size. I eventually got back on the boat after an extremely close encounter with a ray who insisted on doing backflips directly beneath me alone; it was overwhelming, but looking back it was a wonderful experience and I'd love to do it again (maybe in the daytime next time so I can see them coming!)
Christabel Christabel
18-21, F
Jul 28, 2007