Following the success of the See and Sea Organisation’s first ever Manta Ray Education, Awareness and Research presentation, guests on the Similan liveaboard MV Oktavia were treated to an impromptu presentation after some great dives with Manta Rays at Koh Bon in the Similan Islands National Park.
The presentation was conducted by Ric Parker who was working on MV Oktavia at the time as a freelance instructor.
“We were all having a great liveaboard trip on Oktavia. There was a nice, sociable group of divers on board. I was conducting an open water course on the trip so I had the rewarding feeling watching my student develop and enjoy the new underwater world. Swept along by the good mood of the boat I had said I would give my Manta presentation if we saw Manta Rays at Koh Bon on the second day of the trip.
Before diving at Koh Bon I had conducted the dive briefing. The more I learn about Manta Rays the more it becomes apparent that divers can have a negative impact on Manta populations if we don’t follow a proper code of conduct. So with that I wanted to ensure that all divers knew how to interact with these animals should they be around on the dive.
The trick is not to swim directly at them but let them approach you. If they are feeling comfortable with your group of divers then they can be very inquisitive. Divers can witness a fantastic display of graceful movements as the manta swoops around checking everyone out. With a little luck, the Manta may even swim over head. This is a great opportunity to get photographic ID shots of the Manta’s belly.
I hoped by giving this briefing I didn’t create any guarantees we would see a Manta, if you talk about them a lot people’s expectations can rise.
As it turned out we had only been in the water a minute or so before the first Manta Ray appeared out of the blue. We all got to have a good look before unfortunately some divers from another boat chased it away. They were obviously unaware of the correct code of conduct for diving with Mantas. It did, however, highlight to our divers the importance of implementing and following these rules.
Diving with the Manta ray at Koh Bon did create the chance for me to do my second Magnificent Manta Rays presentation. As I learnt from the first time around, you just need to present the information you know, the Mantas do the rest. They are the magnificent creatures, they are the ones who always steal the show.”
More about the Manta Ray Presentations
The See and Sea Organisation have already been involved with Manta Ray conservation for several years whilst on Ray of Hope Expeditions with Dr Andrea Marshall and Dr Fabrice Jaine from the Marine Megafauna Foundation. Conducting Manta Ray presentations whilst on Similan Liveaboards is still relatively new to our organisation, but is proving to be a great hit with divers.
The Manta presentation, ‘Magnificent Manta Rays’ is taken from presentations and information provided by the Marine Megafauna Foundation. Divers can learn a lot about Manta Rays: their evolution, their intelligent and social behaviour, the threats that they face and also about the technology used by the Marine Megafauna Foundation to study them.
Manta ray Presentations add an extra dimension to the activities on a Similan liveaboard. They are also a vital platform to teach divers proper code of conduct whilst diving with Manta Rays, information that is valid where ever there are touristic possibilities to dive with Mantas.
With greater awareness within the diving industry it is hoped that tourism revenue generated through diving with Mantas can provide incentives to developing countries to give Manta Rays better protection. Manta fisheries are increasing in many third world countries where there are Manta populations, a trend that could be replaced by Manta tourism.
See and Sea would like to thank MV Oktavia for the opportunity to spread the word about Manta Rays and the support shown by their liveaboard staff, Tour Leader Branco and head instructor Tom.
See and Sea are currently looking for more opportunities to conduct Manta Ray presentations and workshops to a wider audience. Khao Lak dive centres and Similan liveaboard boats can get involved, just contact us for more details.