Considering my fear of fish, and the dark, and the great big ocean, and large creatures…. I was a little apprehensive about the dive. We made it to the boat (after another Dramamine for me and one for my mom) and took off to our location. Out of the approximately 25 or so people on board, only 6 were divers, my dad and myself included, the rest were snorkelers. Including some that were FIRST TIME snorkelers. To go out at night…. dummies- I'll get to that later. So we were given the rundown about what to expect then they handed out our wetsuits and flashlights, defogged our masks, and we jumped in. We went down about 25 feet following the mooring line from the boat before swimming along to the "campfire" location. (Tons of boats meet there every night for the show so they set up a campfire circle with flashlights in the center to attract the plankton) We made our way over there and parked it. It was just like a campfire above ground only we were all breathing through regulators. We saw a couple manta rays on our swim over, but it was NOTHING compared to the "show" we were about to experience.
The plankton is attracted to the light and I invested in a MIGHTY underwater LED lamp so they congregated above my head. The mantas soar through the water with their mouths open filtering the plankton. One ray showed up at first. It came straight towards me since my dad had the light shining above my head. It did backflips over my head and came within inches of where I was sitting. Negative inches, that is! I had to do the limbo several times so keep from touching it! It made for some amazing pictures! These rays are HUGE- the largest one we saw had a 15 foot wingspan. They are so gentle though. Just swooping through the water and running into us.
I took a video of the show they were putting on and at about 10 seconds in you'll hear a thump- one of the rays swam right into my head! At the 2 minute mark you'll see one that has a missing front fin- that was the largest one we saw that night at 15 feet across! This was BY FAR the coolest experience EVER. We were down there 45 minutes but it seemed like 2 minutes- max. I could have watched them for hours! Hopefully this video will give you just a glimpse of the awesomeness of these magnificent creatures!