Saturday, March 14, 2009

Reef Encounters

Neat stuff today, in rather unexpected venues. First dive in the morning was a manta dive at a site called "Manta Sandy." As the name implies, it's a sandy sea mount with little coral, but one area is a known cleaning station for big manta rays. And after we sat there for about 15 minutes, here came several big rays. The first ones, I'd guess, we maybe 8-12 feet across their wingspans. Later we saw some that must have been more like 15-18 feet: just massive. They come in, swooping and swirling, with remoras attached, so the cleaner fish can do their jobs. Truly fun to watch, and we had about an hour of that, so it was definitely worth the wait.

Next stop was at the pier at a little island called Airborek (or maybe Air Borek). The main attraction is huge schools of little bait fish (scads, mostly, but also anchovies) that hang out under the pier. Those were spectacular: fun to swim with a great photo and video subjects. The big surprises awaited us on the coral heads nearby. Ali, one of the dive guides, found two pygmy seahorses that he hadn't known about before. Then one of the divers, Mary, found a little blue-ringed octopus.

Basically, I had very low expectations for both of those dives, and both turned out to be great. This is one of the reasons I almost never skip a dive: you never know what you might miss. There's always risk with going to a spot to see one particular thing, since it might not be there. On the other hand, you could always see something great you didn't expect!

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