After talking with a few people before we left for Hawaii, I knew we wanted to do some type of boat extravaganza on my birthday, and we were going to go on a day trip snorkeling thing, but after being advised from two different sources (one from a reader!) how awesome the night manta ray dive was, we decided that’s what we’d do. I was a little bit freaked out by the whole thought of getting into the ocean at night with huge swimming creatures and who knows what else, but I was also excited knowing that people thought it was so cool. Once we were on the boat though, I was excited and not at all afraid.
We got a great online deal with Sunlight on Water and off we went. Our three boat guides were pretty funny, and the lady informing us of the manta rays was a cool German lady. We left about 5:00 and so we got to watch the sunset.
Manta rays eat plankton. The Sheraton Hotel you see here has lights that shine on the water, and the boats all have lights, which plankton gather to. So the manta rays know that the lights = plankton and come and eat it. So we waited for it to get dark and waited for all the other boats to get there with their passengers.
We had wet suits so it really wasn’t too cold. Plus once you get out, the “captain” sprays you off with warm water and give you a hot chocolate.
My mom and Karl were sweet and had given me a waterproof camera the day before for my birthday. I had tried to get it to work all day and thought we had it working, but it turned off after only 30 seconds of recording the manta rays, sadly. I was pretty bummed it didn’t work that night, and not only that, for some reason the card didn’t work and we didn’t get the 30 second video off of it.
Dillon knew I was bummed and got the DVD for me as my birthday present. And the good news is, we did get the camera working while we snorkeled later that week. But here are some screen captures from the DVD we have.
The ones we saw ranged in size from about 5’ across to 16’ across (Big Bertha—she was there!). They were huge! And so awesome!
Carson was super excited there was a remora fish on the bottom of one of them. He even told me before I left, “Mom, if you see a fish on the underneath of another fish, it’s called a remora.” This was actually the smallest and first one we saw—she’s just a baby and her name was Jana Ray.
Unfortunately, I got a bit sea sick while we waited to dive and so I didn’t last the whole time in the water, but I was in there for 15-20 minutes and they were only out for another 10 minutes before the rest of the people came back on the boat. But despite the sea sickness, it was amazing. Such a cool experience! Dillon said after I left one of them got so close it touched him. We had plans to hang out afterwards on the beach or something, but I was pretty sure I was going to puke so we went home and I crashed in bed. Thank goodness I felt much better the next day.
Our guides kindly waited until after we were safely back on the boat to tell us that a 20 foot Tiger Shark lives not too far away from where we were (one of the guides showed us a picture of it), and that previously that day, he had seen a group of about 10 hammerhead sharks about a 1/2 mile away from where we were. Thankfully he waited, because I didn’t even think about sharks once!
The whole experience was really neat. If you ever decide to do it and think there is even a chance you’ll get seasick, take something for it before you go ;).
I think the pictures make it look scary, so here’s a video I found online that shows you how gentle they are. They look like they are flying. (thanks youtube!)