Can I See Manta Rays Scuba Diving in Phuket?
So you are new to scuba diving and you are wondering what all the fuss is about Manta Rays. It is my belief that Manta Rays are one of the best things that you can see under the water. Many people would agree. These gentle giants can be found in the local area. There are two hot spots being Racha Noi near Phuket Island and Koh Bon in the Similan Islands.
Let’s find out what all the fuss is about
There are two species of these graceful creatures. The first being the Reef Manta Ray and then there is the Giant Oceanic Manta Ray. The Reef Manta Rays grow to about 5.5 metres in width. The Giant Oceanic Mantas get up to over 7 metres however there has been reports that they have been found bigger than that.
They are very distinctive in shape with their wings forming a triangular shape. They also have two very unique paddle like lobes just in front of their mouth.
It is reported that they can get up over 1,300 kilograms in weight. The Manta Rays topside is usually dark in color and the underside or body is pale in color. They have unique markings on their underbody that is individual on all Manta Rays in the same way a human fingerprint is.
They are filter feeders choosing to feed on plankton and fish larvae which they take from the water as it passes through their mouths. The food is caught on gill rakers which are tissues that are between the Manta’s bar gills. It is estimate that a fully-grown Manta will eat up to 30 kilograms a day.
Why they are loved so much is because of their behavior towards divers. They are very inquisitive and often swim in close vicinity of divers. They have been known to circle divers on many occasions, getting closer and closer on each occasion.
Another reason they are so love is that they can spend time in very shallow water and close to the waters surface. That makes them accessible to all levels of scuba divers. I was fortunate enough two Giant Manta Rays one my second PADI Open Water Course dive at Racha Yai Island, Phuket. I have done a lot of dives since and to this day the best dive I have ever had was at South Tip, Racha Noi with a Giant Manta Ray. The Giant Manta on that day was between five and six metres in size.
Two Mantas at One Time
I was fortunate to have dived with him on two dives of the day. The first dive the Manta swan to us and around us for about ten minutes. The second dive was witnessed by about 16 divers at which time the Manta put on a ballet type show for us. He came within metres of the scuba divers, at times swam upside down and appeared to be putting on a show for the divers. It was a two hour boat ride back from Racha Noi that day and they atmosphere on the boat was electric and for several days after.
Available to all levels of divers
I have been with all levels of divers since when seeing these magnificent creatures. I have know people on their first dive, doing PADI’s Discover Scuba Dive to have been luck enough to have witness them and not uncommon for divers doing the Open Water Course or Advanced Open Water Course.
Last Similan Island season there were good sighting of up to four at a time at Koh Bon. Hopefully the liveaboard adventures will have the same experience this year.
So no matter what level you are at, or whether you are doing the beginners dives of a PADI Discover Scuba Diving or PADI Open Water Course there is an opportunity for you to experience one of the worlds greatest thrills, swimming with one of these beautiful graceful and harmless creatures.
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