Copyright 2009 by Barry Fackler
Above is my first photo download to this blog. I'm pleased! This is a photo of a manta ray taken earlier this summer in Keauhou Bay. Kona is well known for it's manta night dives. These are somewhat orchestrated events where dive operators set up powerful lights on the seafloor. The lights attract zooplankton (just like lights on land attract bugs), which brings in the mantas which feed on the plankton. Divers sit on the bottom and get treated to a very close encounter with the giant rays. Occasionally they get shut out but not very often. Some nights over twenty mantas show up. I've been on plenty of manta night dives and they are worth the money, especially if you're on vacation. Personally, I prefer to go to Keauhou during the day where you have a pretty good chance of seeing mantas as they cruise around cleaning stations where small wrasse rid them of parasites and loose tissue. The advantages are: viewing and photographing in daylight as well as saving a lot of money by not taking a boat ride. The disadvantages are: climbing over jagged lava rock to make a shore entry and not having divemasters and boat crew to bail you out if you encounter trouble. I suppose if you're visiting, going out with a dive operator is the safest option and the one with the greatest chance of success. But if you live here, the shore entry is a nice way to have a big animal encounter with minimal cost.