So here I was sitting on the sundeck on the boat’s roof, doing my usual mid-dive zone out listening to some of the vast selection of new music I managed to ahem, ‘acquire’ on Koh Lanta. This time it was the turn of Aim’s Hinterland album.
Suddenly some inconsiderate bugger was stomping loudly which interrupted the chilling bass of the sounds in my ear. Then there was more thumping…too early for the dive briefing I thought, so I peeled open an eyelid to witness everyone making a commotion, pointing over the side of the boat. On our previous dive we had been with two Manta Rays circling around us, so before the next beat, the headphones were thrown on the deck and I was at my feet. I looked over to the group next to one of the other liveaboards, and as I heard everyone shouting ‘whale shark’, I saw one of the snorkellers motioning a shark sign. Without any hesitation I decided to follow the people jumping down the stairs, some of whom had already grabbed their camera, donned fins and mask and were one their way – some even decided to save time and give up on the snorkel.
It was hilarious, from zoned out to in the water within 30 seconds, and I was two stories up. I even managed to rescue one of Rachel’s fins that fell off in the hurry and was slowly making it to the seabed 25 metres below.
Everyone was making a beeline for the shark spotting point 25 metres away from our boat, when I spotted a large Manta Ray circling below us at less than 10 metres away. This proved a bit of a deviation for me and I made out from the commotion the shark had moved on. After a bit of swimming and much looking around I decided to head back to the boat.
Ten minutes later, everyone came back, grinning from ear to ear, and the digital cameras being passed around with wonderful arial shots of the whale shark……bastards. I came back too early.
Mind you though, it could have been worse. 45 minutes later we were on our second dive at Koh Hah, jumped off the boat, and had one Manta swim around 5 metres underneath us. Then the divemaster’s bells were shaken to point out the second one following. I then turned round and spotted the third one in the line come into view, trying to grab some people’s attention sticking up three fingers. Sweet. The next 55 minutes were spent with them interrupting us every few minutes, teasing us with how close they would come. Little was I to know that a day later at the same dive site, they would come close enough to almost touche.
They have to be one of the largest (these had a span of around three metres) and most graceful creatures I’ve ever came across and they absolutely mesmerised me underwater, with no space in my head to regret not being able to get a housing for my camera yet! On the next Koh Ha dive I was sitting behind a small coral pinnacle looking at the little fish when I looked up and saw a Manta cruise over it, slow down, and perform a swooping turn directly above me, leaving me and several others around me gobsmacked. That was until they did it again. And again. And again 🙂 I decided I wouldn’t moan within myself at diving at the same site for three dives any more – each dive got better. What a few days.