Have you ever found your self stuck in the middle of a heated competition of underwater courtship by some of the oceans largest animals? Unless you are a BBC camera man paid to seek out these testosterone fueled forays or on Mermaid II’s first Komodo tour of the season, most likely not.
It all took place in Manta Alley, one of Komodo’s southern most dive sites which happens to be one of the best manta sites in the world. Manta Alley is notorious for hosting large groups of mantas, but nothing could have prepared us for this days epical encounters. Even before we could clear the small bubbles from our masks after back-rolling off the dinghy we were bombarded by a train of sixteen mantas. The string mantas came so fast and so suddenly everyone who witnessed it was left looking at each other once it had passed with the facial expression of, “did that really just happen?!” That was just the beginning of it though, for love was in the air, I mean water.
If you’ve never encountered a manta mating train before, it’s easily one of the most amazing underwater events you could witness. One female leads, performing incredible maneuvers that you wouldn’t think possible of an animal that size and shape. With as much style and grace as an olympic acrobat, this lead female summersaults and barrel rolls though the water with an entourage of eager males all mimicking her every move. The male who performs the best is then rewarded with a ‘treat’ out in the deep blue.
There was no searching or waiting required for that special moment when a manta would approach you. Individuals and small groups were milling about everywhere on the site. A group of twelve were continuously cleaning on the deeper cleaning station while others fed on the surface and then the odd ones passing you on the reef and in the blue. If that wasn’t enough, every five minutes that giant lineup of ‘excited’ mantas would come screaming though the site with no regard for the dive groups. You would be swimming along enjoying the company of a docile manta cleaning then out of the blue would would be included in this epic battle/ballet of the competing male escorts.
Mermaid II Maumere-Komodo – Bali Cruise
May 4-11, 2016