Two months ago we had a new dive master trainee from Switzerland who stayed 3 months with us and learned a lot about mantas. Here's how Ben lived his manta course :
Which diver hasn’t dreamt of diving with mantas and see them flying around like an alien spaceship? I have the chance to have seen them in different places in the world but never like here, in Raja Ampat. I was amazed by their quantity, their consistant presence at the dive sites and the low number of divers underwater. After diving a first time in Manta Sandy and observing eight mantas doing their show over us, during half an hour, I didn’t think it could be any better. But it did! Thanks to the manta ecology speciality course offered by Soul Scuba divers.
Mantas are amazing animals whose elegance, size and motion are enough to blow any human’s mind. However, they become even more interesting when you start to get to know them better, by learning about their anatomy, behavior and habitat. I first started with a theoretical course given by Annie, the fascinating and passionate Finnish instructor of Soul Scuba divers. She has been diving with mantas and studying them for years. She cannot hide her excitement when she observes something new about them or when a new study is released. After this introduction, we went on a field trip to Manta Ridge, close to Arborek Island. This time, I had my slate and some key points I wanted to observe. We were lucky, as eleven of them showed up on this dive! It seemed they knew we came with new eyes and that this time we wanted to have a deeper connection with them. I took notes of their specie, sex and pregnancy. I also observed their behavior, the communication between each other, with the cleaning fishes and even with the divers. I look at any other interesting signs and took pictures of their bellies and backs. With the additional knowledge I had, thank to the speciality course, I looked at them with a totally new perspective and I came out of this dive with even more stars in my eyes than after the first one. During the surface interval, we did an extensive debriefing with Annie and shared our observations with the other divers that were also very happy to learn some additional knowledge on these animals. Last but not least, once we came back on Kri Island, I sorted my pictures and we uploaded them on a manta’s belly recognition website that allows scientists to follow, study and get to know them better.
When we dive, we are entering the underwater world as guests and it is very rewarding to do it with a humble and learning attitude. By doing this first step towards its inhabitants we are getting to know each other better and the diving becomes even more enjoyable. This experience made me now want to do similar courses for every species I am encountering underwater! I can only encourage every divers to take this speciality course and what a better place to do it than Raja Ampat, with Soul Scuba divers?