Monday, November 18, 2013

Manta rays

This morning, we took the dinghy around the point from Sea Turtle at Komodo Island (Indonesia) as we were told that is where the official Pink Beach is located. We wanted to check this out after finding the other amazing pink beach yesterday. The official Pink Beach was NOT as pink, in our opinion, and the red coral was mixed with golden coloured sand rather than white sand like the other beach.

There was good snorkelling but the current was really fast and strong; the water was just a tad cooler. We saw very large trevally fish and a few turtles. This 1 looked a bit grumpy.

Back off dude...

Another turtle was very interested in the coral and at 1 point he even had a piece in his mouth. He kept pushing his nose deep into the coral digging around for something.

I can see you...

We also found another fish with scales that resembled camouflage. Swimming over the soft corals, he just seemed to blend right in. We have seen several but do not know their official name. One day we will see it in a book somewhere!

Back at Sea Turtle, we went in search of the world's largest ray, manta rays. Anchoring at S08°33.356' E119°37.917', we spread out in the water to start looking. Before we got more than a few feet apart, Aaron (Jordan's son) yelled out "I see them!" Jordan, Dee (Aaron's wife), and I joined Aaron and we all looked down at 1 of the largest manta rays we have ever swum with!

Dee approaching the manta ray

He gracefully flapped his muscular "wings" that extended out from his body; mantas can be up to 4.8 m (16 feet) from tip to tip. This 1 was about 3 metres. We snorkelled down and swam over him, towards him, behind him. He did not seem to mind at all and did not move away. I had been practicing deep diving so even I was able to swim down near them.

Jordan and me getting close

At 1 point, we were joined by 2 other smaller mantas but they did not stay around as long and would come and go...

Manta rays have skeletons of cartilage, not bone as most fish do, and they have a diet of plankton. We won't be on their menu so no need to fear these large gentle creatures.

Jordan swam off and found a huge moray eel emerging from his lair in a coral reef crevice but the 3 of us were not yet ready to leave the mantas. Then a dive boat appeared and asked us not to anchor in the area as we were unknowingly in a National Park area, so we graciously boarded Sea Turtle and moved off. As the dive boat's motor also scared off the manta rays, we probably would have left even if we had not been asked to.

We motored (yes, we are still motoring as so seldom is there any wind) and anchored in front of a resort. We planned to go ashore for cocktails and/or a meal later. After being anchored for about 2 hours, the resort officials asked us to move to a mooring ball around the corner. It was almost 19:00 and getting dark. We could not find any mooring balls so decided to just head back to Labuanbajo. We had our track to follow on digital charts so were not too worried about moving in the dark. We tied up to our same mooring ball at 22:00, safe and secure for the night.

Wow - what a great day!

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