I was lucky enough to see some of the most amazing, and weirdest creatures I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.
The photo at the end of my last post was a Bow mouth guitar shark, so called because of the shape of it’s head. It is a very rare kind of ray, but it is not clear where exactly it fits into evolutionary trends. Perhaps related to guitar fish and skates, although it is more fun to think that this is a living example of sharks turning into rays – evolutionary speaking of course. What do you think?
In this slightly over exposed picture (a photography learning curve) you can clearly see the eccentric shape of the snout, making the mouth form an undulating W shape . There are also typically shark like dorsal and tail fins.
This beauty didn’t hang around for very long so we weren’t acquainted intimately, but no matter we were on Manta Reef. There was plenty more to see….
The first thing that struck me about Manta Reef, was strangely not the Mantas but the huge abundance of fish. It was as if it was fish rush hour, and it was absolutely stunning. It is truly amazing how they all follow each other up and down and round and round as if they’re heading somewhere together. Where are they going?
As you can see from the above pictures of schooling big eye snapper, it really does resemble the M1 on a sunny bank holiday.
Apart from schooling fish there is the usual coral fish. Plenty of sea urchins and Anemones and of course Nudibranchs. Lovely.
I noticed on these dives there were many many pufferfish of many many different kinds. And some had a strange habit that I had never noticed before. They seem to hide under rock and overhangs, as if sleeping. I’m not sure if they were sleeping, or were they sheltering or hiding?
I do know that to encounter a pufferfish, or porcupine fish or indeed a little box fish, that you really get the feeling that they are a truly unique fish. First of all they have amazingly cute faces, with big eyes and a cheeky expression. They have very striking patterns which differ quite a lot from species to species. Stripes, spots, dots and splodges all have a place on a puffer, and very beautiful it is too. Most have spines too, which is part of the defence for they’re “Puff up” when threatened.
I am still to see a puffed up one and although I would love to see it, I also know that they can only inflate a limited number of times (approx 7-12) until it leads to death. It is common for dive guides to aggravate puffers to impress other divers, which is extremely bad practice as they effectively shortening their lives.Bad divers!
You can still appreciate them as they are. I actually thought I saw one inflated, however on closer inspection it just turned out to be a bit fat. Nevermind.
Onto the Mantas, this is Manta reef after all! In my last post I wrote about my first experience with a Manta, this was unbelievable, and it really does not change. It is always a life changing experience seeing, watching, or swimming with a Manta Ray. This time I was able to concentrate on the photos a little more.
We saw a few Mantas that day, but this one really stole the show….
She flew around us several times…
and then straight over my head!!!
She was later identified by the Marine Megafauna Foundation as female Giant Manta Peresphone, who they hadn’t seen since May 2011. It was great to hear that she is still safe and well.
To give some perspective, see this picture of my buddy Jess with Peresphone and you really get the idea of size…………
There was only one more animal I had come to see. And we were quite worried as we’d been there 3 weeks and not yet had any luck. Apparently, they’d been seen in huge abundance this time last year, and it seemed to be a concern with the dive centres why there had only been a tiny few any around so far. I would not have been happy to go home without the experience. Jess, my buddy, arrived on the same day as me, and stayed for the same amount of time. So we joked that mother nature would not allow one of us to see one, and not the other – it just wouldn’t be fair. So, the Thursday before leaving, Jess was leading the Ocean Safari. I had only been on one safari so far and seen nothing, Jess had done a few and again seen nothing, but hey ho might as well go on the last one. I am so glad that we did, and we were correct in our theory from our fair and pure mother nature. An amazing site. One I will remember all my life, and hope for plenty more………………
Unfortunately, yet if you are a believer in a certain Murphy’s law then very typically, my memory card became full. I couldn’t delete any photos either as mother nature had decided to make the sea salt stick the buttons on my camera housing, rendering it temporarily useless. Oh dear. I am actually very pleased as instead of trying to take the perfect picture I was there just to enjoy the experience. And what an experience! A perfect end to a perfect and magical adventure.
Next stop Samos………
by Katie with