Out of the vast blue emerges the majestic shapes of three mantas. I dive down as they approach and watch them glide past me a couple of meters away, marvelling how peaceful they appear. Suddenly I hear a noise and splashes above catch my eye. I look up to a scene of carnage as human limbs, fins and cameras are thrust in every direction. The stampede passes by desperately trying to keep up with the creatures below. Yip, the other resorts snorkeling group has arrived!

The chase

We were back into Mantaray Island Resort, happy our group got a few minutes alone with the mantas before the hoard arrived when I mentioned to Dan how amazing drone shots would have been. After a few quick conversations the decision was made if we went right now there was a chance the mantas would still be there, and we could get a drone shot.

Dan, Vin and I jumped in the Mantaray Island longboat and were soon back to the channel. As Dan put together the drone I grabbed a 360 camera and splashed back into the water.

There was something magical about being alone in the middle of the channel. The wind had dropped, the surface was calm and there was no current at all. Perfect conditions! I started to swim in the direction the guys on the boat had seen the mantas when I came across a bait ball of fish feeding, with a couple of large GT’s (giant trevally) lurking a little wider. The bait ball suddenly scattered as three large mantas emerged and glided past me.

The manta rays emerging through the bait ball

This was one of those moments I will remember forever! For the next 20 minutes I was alone and one with the ocean. The mantas would pass by unconcerned by my presence as they fed on the rich plankton found in the channel. I am still in awe at how graceful they swam through the water – a skill the hoard of snorkelers from earlier in the day could learn from!

Swimming with mantas