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.
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.
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.