Saturday, October 29, 2005

Kona manta ray night dive.

Hi all,

I'm finally starting to heal up from my little doctor's visit on Monday. I keep running into guys who said they were fine in three days. Guess I'm a slow healer, I still hurt today but at least I can walk without looking like I'm riding on a saddle. I'm hoping to be pain free by Monday and get the clearance to go back to usual activities by week's end.

I haven't been diving since last Saturday now and have actually turned down a lot of work. Being as I have one of the best jobs a person can have, I'm hoping to be able to get back in the water soon. The heavy lifting is what will be holding me up.

I guess I'll talk briefly about one of the dives which Kona is known for, not only in Hawaii, but pretty much worldwide - The manta ray dive. Short of whalesharks and schooling hammerheads (which also can be found in Kona, although less commonly) one of the major goals of many divers is to see manta rays. Kona is the only spot in the world which I am aware of where you can literally sit on your rear end and be divebombed by mantas for upwards of an hour without moving an inch.

Our single most popular dive here is our manta dive. Several years ago some divers noticed that manta rays were feeding under lights shining off one of the hotels. They tried diving it and found that the mantas would come up and feed off the plankton attracted to thier dive lights. Over the years this has become a nice little industry in Kona. I think they came up with a figure in the last year or two that roughly 11,000 divers and snorkelers a year are doing the dive.

Over time, the main site for this dive has actually moved to off the airport, it seems to be more consistant, have larger numbers of mantas showing up, and is a better site as far as managing groups of divers and snorkelers as it's more protected from swells. It's been going like gangbusters the last couple weeks. I'm getting reports that they are seeing seven t0 ten, sometimes as many as 13 or so, showing up almost every night at the site off the airport.

It is a special event. Each boat operator will put their divers, with lights provided by the operators, down in a central area where the show will take place. Once the plankton starts to build up overs the divers' lights, the mantas will start to feed. They swoop directly over the lights, frequently coming within inches (sometimes they bump you) of divers' heads. We get people who've dove all over the world who say this is probably their single favorte dive. While never a guarantee, when they are in it's quite amazing. I've done it at least a couple hundred times and I still enjoy it every dive.

Curious? Click on the link to my "Wanna Dive?" web page and click on any of the manta links and I have more pictures and some video (from a slow night) on the page you can check out.



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