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    The Reef Manta's of Komodo National Park, East Nusa Tenggara - Indonesia

    We left Alor for Komodo National Park and it's surroundings wondering what the rest of the dive destinations of the trip in Indonesia would have in store for us. Main goal in Komodo was to see the Manta rays after our attempt in the Manta Bowl in the Phillipines had failed. And did we get so see them! Due to success we dove the Manta dive twice in Komodo

    On a divesite called Airstrip (appropriate name for the divesite) the reef Manta's of Komodo come in to be cleaned and Manta sightings in the right season (around April, but we were there in May and had a lot of sightings) are guaranteed. We were very happy with the diveoperator we decided to dive with Reefseekers. During the 2-hour ride out to the divesites froim Labuan Bajo they always had informative talks about the marine life we were about to encounter and overall the service was perfect. One of the manta's we encountered on the Airstrip divesite gave us a serious performance when she was being cleaned by the butterflyfishes on a cleaningstation.

    The first 10 minutes in the dive we did not see anything, although all divers were spread out like a big chain to maximise sightings. After ten minutes this approach paid off when one of the guides banged her tank. When we arrived closer we saw this (2-3m wide) Manta hovering over a coral bommie. This manta left rather quickly after our arrival, but then an even bigger female Manta ray (3,5m in wingspan) flew in to have a cleaning session on the same coral bommie. By then we were lying "first row" already and enjoyed the show.

    The divesite Airstrip seemed a rather boring divesite (a stretched out plane with some coral outcrops), but although seeing the Mantarays was amazing already, other animals were also the be seen here. Other rays like eagle rays and smaller species also seemed to like these grounds for catching crayfish and crabs since we saw several of them. We also saw quite a few inquisitive blacktip reefsharks, hawksbill turtles, triggersfish and among the rubble also some colourful mantisshrimps.

    The second time we did the Manta dive we even got to snorkel with them, while the rest of divers on the boat stayed on deck to have lunch. We forgot about lunch as soon as we saw the 3-4 meter wide animals flapping on the surface. Jumping in and swimming for dear life we got to the same point as with the devil rays in the Philippines. We couldn't really get close because of the current, so we just drifted and went with the flow, rather than swimming against it. Eventually, the rays again sneaked up from behind!

    The reef with it's cleaning stations was about 8 meters below us and we could see some of them hovering over the coral and others were cruising together.On the dive we had some other wicked encounters with the rays and in total we must have seen about 30+ of them. Nice count!

    Source: jcp-intotheblue.blogspot.com

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