At first it was just a shadow, a flicker in the corner of my vision. I lay motionless at the surface, breathing slowly through my snorkel, eyes fixed on the dark shape. Slowly, slowly it came into focus; seventy feet below, now fifty, now forty.
Five foot long wings, perfect isosceles triangles, spread out on either side of the thick gray body. It arched up toward me and I could see the unmistakable mouth, hanging open, filtering plankton and larvae as it swam.
I didn’t move. I just watched, eyes darting from the mouth, to the wings, to the tail. Then I heard a muted crash – someone making their way off the catamaran into the water. The manta ray flicked its wings and was gone in seconds, disappearing into the three hundred foot deep waters surrounding Molokini Crater.
I felt so lucky. Manta rays are relatively rare in Hawai’i and always shy and elusive. Taking the early morning express tour with Kai Kanani Sailing and getting out to Molokini before the rest of the snorkel boats meant the crater was quiet enough for that huge prehistoric fish to feel comfortable there. Beating the crowds always pays off. Always.
By Megan Edgar,
Maui Goodness Staff Writer