One of the highlights of the diving around here are the manta rays. People come from all over the world to dive with them and we are lucky enough to be able to do so very often around here.
My first manta ray sighting ever was in Nusa Lembongan, back in 2011 during my second trip here. I couldn't believe how amazing it was, and probably was close to crying that day.
My first manta ray ever, Dec 2011, Nusa Lembongan
Since then, I have been diving several times at our manta sites here, but it is always the same amazement, the same pleasure to see these incredible creatures underwater, and the same satisfaction when you see the smiles on your divers' faces.
I always thought that sharks were my favorite animals by far. Now, mantas are starting to be a serious contender.
Not only I am still in awe when I see them, but I am learning a lot more about them. We have here on the island an organization called Aquatic Alliance who is researching our local manta population. These guys not only do research to ID the mantas and learn as much as we can about them, but also they work on educating visitors and locals about the mantas.
For example, thanks to their ID work, we now know that a manta we have seen here was also spotted in the Gili islands a few months ago. And even more amazing, another one that we know from here was spotted in Komodo a few weeks ago!! That is more than 400 km away.
Most of the dive shops around here are happy to offer their help, as are the dive guides and instructors. So we always try to collect pictures or take some in order to help with the identification.
I brought in some pictures a few days ago given by one of my divers, thinking that some of the shots were good enough to ID some of them and confirm when and where we had seen them. Some of them indeed were...but even better, amongst the pictures was a new unknown manta! A black one as well, which I think are the coolest ones. And I was rewarded with the honor of naming it. Meet Black Casper.
Check out this page for more information about them, I am pretty sure you will learn plenty!