More manta rays

Two coastal manta rays in the waters off Hawaii

My most recent manta ray encounter happened a few days ago. I was swimming along and saw a familiar shape in front of me. It was a manta ray heading in the same direction. I tracked it for a while, hoping to catch up, but knowing that doing so was entirely up to the manta. Eventually I did draw level for a short while. Then the manta pulled away again.

As it disappeared, I thought at first I was seeing some kind of weird reflection in the water. Then I realized it was a second manta swimming toward me. As it approached the first manta turned and followed behind. Both were pretty large and up near the water’s surface, creating reflections.

A coastal manta ray in the waters off Hawaii

They passed by, and receded in the direction I’d come from. I hung around for a while hoping they’d reverse course again and, sure enough, a few moments later the two of them came back toward me. On this pass, I could see that one had a badly damaged cephalic flap. It looked like an old wound and didn’t seem to trouble the manta much, but I don’t know how it would affect it when it came to feeding since they use the flaps to funnel plankton into their mouths.

A coastal manta ray in the waters off Hawaii

Eventually, the mantas headed away and out into deeper water. I stayed out for a while on the off chance that they’d return, but wasn’t surprised when they didn’t. Still, it had been another wonderful encounter and I headed back toward shore in a very good mood.

Two coastal manta rays in the waters off Hawaii

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