Black Water Six Senses Manta Ray Diving I/II
Human swimming is above and beneath the water, but for the Manta Ray it is fully immersed. The sun has just gone down and we are about to penetrate the surface of the water in an attempt to swim with a Manta Ray. Last night we went out as a group of SCUBA divers yet, none of the solitary creatures showed up…perhaps there are not any of the non-territorial free swimming Manta Rays in these parts of the Atlantic Ocean.
The sensitive and rare Manta are the largest size Rays at up to 25 feet across and weighing over 5,000lbs. Rays literally possess a sixth sense: ampullae de lorenzini. Ampullae give the ray the ability to detect electrical nervous system pulses of other animals.
Our strategy for finding the Manta Rays is to feed them, but not by bringing food. Plankton is attracted to light and during the daylight it can be anywhere but if we all dive at night with lights the hope is plankton will come and perhaps a Manta for a late night snack. Tonight lighting is limited as I am the only one diving with a group of snorklers at the surface.
SCUBA diving brings degrees of excitement of the unknown when penetrating the largest habitat on Earth. How will the creatures react? What if we do not get along? Attempting to cast anxiety aside…with a giant stride, I faithfully leap off the boat and break the surface down into the depths nearest the Big Island of Hawaii. Descending the water is getting colder, darker, and blacker. Blackness is now looks like when you cover your eyes with your hands in a pitch dark room, absolute. Darkness surrounds me, blindness everywhere. Relax, breathe…almost like a reverse clausterphobia in which anywhere seems infinite. No way to tell up or down. Focus on the moment. Being present, feeling the heartbeat and the pureness of being alive with low sense stimulation. Mentally, my mind wants to understand borders, boundaries, and defined spaces however, my imagination enjoys the limitless freedom of just flowing and existing with fewer containers as if my senses can roam unconnected as they please. Enjoying the expansive peace, I hover neutrally buoyant, drifting with the current and floating like a baby inside the mother ocean. Time is rapidly passing but with few indicators, has it been a few seconds?!…no a few minutes.
I turn on my light, to bait some plankton. Moments slow down to a crawl as I wait impatiently, shining the light in all directions…curious if I can do something different to lure the rays. Waiting… Waiting… endlessly it seems my Manta Ray experience maybe limited to cinema. And then something happened, totally unexpectedly…
…to be continued!