Diving with Manta Rays

Malapascua Island Travel Blog

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Preparing for the Monad Shoal dive

People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Nick (USA), Saar (Israel)

The second day on Malapascua was all about been in the water again. After an early start and filling breakfast, we grabbed our snorkelling equipment and headed down the beach to the Danau resort, where Dan had said there was some interesting marine life. Although there were not as many fish, we did see a couple of interesting schools, a vast variety of colourful starfish and the beach itself was pristine.

After an hour and a half we headed back to our cottage for some lunch, before it was time to go diving. There are 3 'big' fish that inhabit the waters around Malapascua Island, namely Thresher Sharks, White Tip Reef Sharks and Manta Rays.

Manta Ray at Monad Shoal
As i'd seen White Tips in the Galapagos Islands and nobody had seen Threshers around for days (and they set off at 5am for that trip), i decided to go on the dive to Monad Shoal looking for Manta Rays. I was told that they also hadn't been spotted for a few days and not to hold out too much hope. With my track record of seeing things, i was pretty sure my luck wouldn't be in today either!

We reached the site after a 20 minute boat ride, and proceeded to descend a line to reach the 'cleaning station', where the Manta's pass by some afternoons, to get spruced up by the cleaner fish which inhabit the area. No sooner had we reached 25 metres, the dive master Ken was tapping his tank to signal he had seen something. I swam as hard as possible and got a decent glimpse as the Manta went gliding away from us.

Manta Ray at Monad Shoal
It wasn't the best of sightings, but i would have been more than content if that was all we saw all day.

We settled on the bottom and waited, observing the other fish that were swimming around us. I was off in a little World of my own, snapping some smaller fish, when i got a tug on my air pipe. I wondered what the hell was going on, but realised that Nick was trying to get my attention as there was a huge Manta Ray swimming past us only a few metres away! I couldn't believe our luck and after our brief encounter, it was gone again. The thing with Manta Rays is that there is absolutely no point in trying to follow them, as 100 leg kicks would be the equivalent of one waft of their gigantic 'wings'. Within minutes a third Manta Ray appeared, this time swimming from right to left and came closer than either of the previous 2.

Lionfish at Monad Shoal
It was a truly memorable moment to be so close to something so powerful and graceful.

After our encounter with the Manta Rays, we swam away from the cleaning station and encountered some more really impressive things, including a beautiful lion fish, moorish idols and triggerfish. Luckily a guy called Saar was a dive master, so i managed to stay down there with him and a friend of his, when Nick and Ken had to surface shortly before us. The dive lasted around an hour and was up there with the best i had ever done. On the way back to the island we saw a huge game fish, which we believed was a marlin. It really rounded the trip off in spectacular fashion.

After an hours break for some refreshments and relaxation, we were back on the boat and heading for a night time dive at the lighthouse.

Ghost pipe fish at Monad Shoal
The main reason to dive here was to see the Mandarin fish that were performing a mating ritual at this time of year. We positioned ourselves with our flashlights around piece of coral and watched as they emerged to do their dances. Whilst there, we also saw some interesting sea slugs, but unfortunately my BCD was faulty and i had to surface after half an hour as it inflated and shot me up to the surface. Im only thankful it hadn't happened on the earlier dive or i could have been in serious trouble. It was a little disappointing to end the day in such a way, but it had still been an unforgettable one for so many reasons.

The following day we were planning to do a double dive at Gato Point to see the White Tip Reef Sharks, but as we couldn't get enough people to split the cost, we had to give it a miss. We therefore grabbed the ferry back to Maya and a bus to Cebu, so as to catch the evening ferry to Tagbiliran, thus ending a wonderful time on the island.

Deats says:
Definitely learn Ann! Its a whole different world down there, and one thatnot many people recognise exists :)
Posted on: Dec 16, 2007
Ann_Hells says:
This is incredible! I love ocean life but I never see it up close, I'm going to have to learn to dive!
Posted on: Dec 16, 2007
sid583 says:
I am going back to the Philippines next year to visit family and have never been to Malapascua.
Is it an easy place to get to? Did you travel from Cebu?
great blog by the way.
Posted on: Dec 15, 2007
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Preparing for the Monad Shoal dive
Preparing for the Monad Shoal dive
Manta Ray at Monad Shoal
Manta Ray at Monad Shoal
Manta Ray at Monad Shoal
Manta Ray at Monad Shoal
Lionfish at Monad Shoal
Lionfish at Monad Shoal
Ghost pipe fish at Monad Shoal
Ghost pipe fish at Monad Shoal
Snorkelling at Danau
Snorkelling at Danau
Starfish at Danau snorkelling site
Starfish at Danau snorkelling site
Snorkelling at Danau
Snorkelling at Danau
Me on the beach at Danau
Me on the beach at Danau
Julia on the beach at Danau
Julia on the beach at Danau
Diving at Monad Shoal
Diving at Monad Shoal
Manta Ray at Monad Shoal
Manta Ray at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
Fish at Monad Shoal
School of fish
School of fish
Fish at at Monad Shoal
Fish at at Monad Shoal
Starfish at Monad Shoal
Starfish at Monad Shoal
Lionfish at Monad Shoal
Lionfish at Monad Shoal
Diving at at Monad Shoal
Diving at at Monad Shoal
Fish at at Monad Shoal
Fish at at Monad Shoal
Large Marlin
Large Marlin
Sunset at sunset lighthouse dive
Sunset at sunset lighthouse dive
Fish at the Sunset Lighthouse Dive…
Fish at the Sunset Lighthouse Div…
Fish at the Sunset Lighthouse Dive…
Fish at the Sunset Lighthouse Div…
Sea slug at the Sunset Lighthouse …
Sea slug at the Sunset Lighthouse…
Mandarin fish at the Sunset Lighth…
Mandarin fish at the Sunset Light…
The strenuous life of a diver!
The strenuous life of a diver!
Malapascua Island
photo by: Deats