This is the third and final blog of a three part series about a manta ray education trip with Wicked Diving.
The next morning we flew in the first 10 minutes of Siaba Kecil. Enjoying the ride, we marveled at the turtles flying by. But after 10 minutes of craziness, we got to the easy coral slope to enjoy the rest of the dive by swimming slowly. We saw scorpionfish, lionfish and a brown banded bamboo shark that was resting on the coral slope. It let us get very close! But the big happiness came after breakfast. We had an awesome plan, we would dive Karang Makassar, if we wouldn’t find mantas we would go and snorkel the back and the front until we did and then dive again. But from the surface the boat crew spotted mantas just before Steve was about to go and check the current. So everybody jumped in with him to do the current check……well not really, everybody jumped to see the mantas! Five mantas were seen including one black morph. The dive briefing was done on the dive deck and we all jumped in afterwards to see if we could find them diving as well. And we did!!! Most of them were cleaning on the cleaning stations. Females, males, big and small gave us quality time with them. It was awesome! One big female had at least 25 butterfly fish on her. But also a big free swimming moray eel, a baby moray eel, turtle and a peacock mantis shrimp were spotted.
So we asked everybody what to do next, do another dive here, or leave one for the last day. All agreed that we wanted to take another chance, do another dive at Makassar and see what it would bring us. Would they still be around? They were!!!The tide was rising. And mantas were having a good clean both on the deeper and shallower cleaning stations. A brown banded bamboo shark passed by Steve’s head and a black tip reef shark later came to say hello as well. In the rubble a peacock mantis shrimp was trying to hide. Both mantas seen were male and both stayed for at least 25 minutes on the station getting a good clean. What a happy flappy day! And thanks a lot for the ID footage, it is incredibly helpful and important for Komodo National Park and mantas in general!
Next it was time to go to Wainilu, an absolute awesome muck dive during the day and a fantastic night dive. Spanish Dancers, decorated crabs, ornate ghost pipefish, several types of moray eels, nudibranchs, cuttlefish, squid, mandarin fish and all kinds of other creatures that were amazingly weird! Afterwards there was lots of talking about what we had seen, and the general consensus was that it had be an awesome diving day! Mantas, critters and lots of fun but most importantly we learned a great deal about manta ray education!
That was our diving done but not yet the end of the trip. We went dragon trekking in the morning. A medium length trek, with lots of big and baby dragons left us all energized. We beheld a beautiful view from the top of the hill, bush turkeys, monkeys and even from the Scotchy we were pretty sure we saw a crocodile! After the last bit of snorkeling and then it was time to put up the sails and sail into the harbor of Labuan Bajo. At five we met again in the shop to see some traditional dancing and have a drink together. Thanks to all of you for an amazing trip and for deepening our knowledge about manta ray education!