Sunday, February 2, 2003

What made this a great trip

A short but memorable encounter with a gentle giant

At Maamigili Kandu, a rather poor reef with bad visibility, out of the dark blue, comes an impressive sight, a juvenile whale shark about 5m long, passing by right beneath us, but alas too shy to hang around for a friendly chat.

Special treatment at Dhon Kalo Thila

Lying on the sandy bottom at 20m, waiting, looking at the surrounding reef, I suddenly notice a manta gliding in and hovering above the corals. After a short while it slowly moves on and disappears, only to be followed by another and another and another!

All three hovering in line while being cleaned by small fish darting up from the reef for an easy meal of parasites. Once they're gone again, I too take off, slowly drifting away and almost bumping into a fifth manta, a pretty large one, that lets me admire its graceful movements for a while... before heading on for its visit with the cleaners.

That night two mantas perform feeding acrobatics besides the boat, taking advantage I guess from the boat's plankton attracting lights.

Reef patrol

During our trip we've seen jacks circling the Victory wreck, turtles, big napoleons, eagle rays hanging seemingly effortlessly in the currents, stingrays, all kinds of triggerfish and snappers, besides of course many other fish.

And our last dive, at Maaya Thila, is a splendid end to an all in all great trip. Grey reef sharks keep cruising around, checking us out real close, as within touching distance! Two white tip sharks passing by seem relatively small in comparison. Facing the moderate current, a big barracuda pretends not to notice us. And on the reef's top, a turtle grazes undisturbed by all the action.

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