Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Indonesia: Manta Rays, Flying Foxes and more

We saw a lot of wildlife other than the Komodo dragons that we had not anticipated. Our first night on the boat, right at dusk we watched thousands of flying foxes emerge from their little island home for the evening in search of fruit on the bigger surrounding islands. Even though they flew high above our heads you could tell they were huge bats. Hint the name flying fox. 

Then on our last day we stopped at Manta Point in the hopes of seeing a Manta Ray. Earlier in the trip I was lucky and randomly saw one jump completely out of the water, but we really wanted to swim with these gently giants. 

We spotted a few while in the boat, but by the time we had jumped in the water they were long gone. We then asked the boat captain to put out a rope and drag us in the water so that when we saw one we would be right there and ready. He looked at us like we were crazy but then through out a rope. It was nerve wrecking when we passed over areas where I couldn't see the ocean floor. It was deep water and thoughts of sharks seeing us being dragged like bate entered my mind. 

After some time we finally found a few Manta Rays. The boat stopped and the captain pointed port side. When we looked from above the water we could tell they were feeding at the surface some distance away. We swam straight their direction as the two Rays swam straight for us. Underwater we could not see them but we knew we were going the right direction until BAM they were right in front of us, with their mouths wide. They did not notice us until we were right in their face and I could tell it gave them quite a surprise. 

After seeing the first 2 we got the hang of spotting them and we were in the right area where they were feeding. We would get to swim with one or two till they got spooked and shot off. At one point Blake was far off alone and found 8 of them in the same spot all swimming around him. After noticing that these Rays did not mind his presence he called me over to get up close and personal with a few. They move through the water like giant birds flying in the air.

It was a lot of fun. I thought I would be more nervous swimming with an animal that big, but it was exhilarating. One of my fondest memories from our trip. 

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