Published: July 21st 2012July 21st 2012
We had been considering swimming with the manta rays and were quite excited about going, when we woke up in the morning it was still raining. It was about 730 and we had been told that a few of the boys left early in the morning to go find where the manta rays actually were. We were sitting on the bed trying to decide what to do when we heard the drums signaling that they had found them and it was time to take off. We grabbed our snorkels, masks and fins and took off. It was slightly raining but wasn’t too horribly bad. About 10 of us or so pilled in a boat with 2 Fijian guides and one English guide named Joe.
Our boat took off out into the ocean and we were off. As we travelled Joe told us about the manta rays, and about the current. The manta rays swim in the currents and often against them, they are experts at working with it, he told us while they will be swimming with ease we will be desperately trying to catch them, “you are not going to succeed at swimming against this current guys. They’ve been doing it a lot longer than you!”
After travelling for 15 minutes or so the boat stopped and our captain announced, “alright get out!” It took a minute to sink in for some reason, we were all here to snorkel but when being told to jump out of the safety of the boat, the idea just seemed foreign. I fumbled with my fins in the boat and was one of the first to jump in whole-heartedly.
I swam around for about 5 minutes, trying to watch were the guides were and at the same time trying to find the manta rays. I took 2 pictures of a school of fish and just left my camera to hang from my wrist. Suddenly there it was, a giant ray, right below me! I grabbed my camera, it had turned off, I pressed the power button while still watching the ray, now there were two, I looked back at my camera, black screen. I pressed the power button again, this time watching the screen, “Sealife” and a blue screen flashed, then the image of an empty, dead battery, then nothing, black screen. My fucking camera was dead! How could this happen? I’m swimming with fucking giant manta rays and their babies and my camera is dead! What the fuck?
I took a breath and tried to calm down before I actually bit through my snorkel, I told myself, “okay the camera is dead, there isn’t anything I can do about that now. I’m still swimming with manta rays and it is still pretty fucking awesome! I can either just decided to enjoy this experience now or I might as well just climb back in the boat and be done.”
I went with enjoying the experience. At first everyone was all clumped together and I was getting really annoyed and sick of getting fins in the face from people trying to pass me. Eventually everyone was all spread out and I was able to get some amazing vantage points of the rays. I had a few all to myself! I was right on top of a giant one, had to be 7 feet across, I felt like I could almost touch it, but really I think I was about 4 feet above it, still so close and incredible! One of the Fijian guides was beside me and nudged me under the water and made the motion with his hands of taking a picture, I shook my head and we both came up and I told him it was dead.
The height of the swim was when I was following a manta ray below me and, I hardly noticed how it happened, I don’t know if it happened suddenly or very slowly but I was swimming with a school of fish, they were all around me. I felt so at peace.
Another Ray took me into the current and swam against it with such grace, I didn’t even notice how hard I swimming until I looked down and noticed that while I was kicking and pushing with all my might the ocean floor wasn’t moving at all, the ray on the other hand was slowly getting away from me. Eventually the ray had gotten so far from me I decided to give him this one and look for another, when I came up though I saw that most of the people were back in the boat and the others were heading back, I figured I should head back as well, this was the easy part, I let the current carry me all the way back to the boat, I hardly had to do anything. When I got in the boat, we all looked around at each and we all realized how much of a work out that had been. I was panting hard, as was Ambur. I just wanted to fall over and rest for a spell. When we got back to the island, I trudged back to the bure and if it hadn’t been for the wet bathing suit I would have collapsed on the bed. “Damn!” I thought, “my kingdom for a chair that can get wet!”