Friday, May 31, 2013


Our last big surf of the season has come and gone (hopefully) and we now have consistent calm sea conditions all along the Kona Coast. When the sea gets flat like this I like to get away from Honaunau and check out some of the bays and beaches that are usually more exposed to the surf.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
On Memorial Day, I ventured down to Keauhou Bay to see if I could find some mantas to swim with me. I was lucky and found two!  By far the more social of the pair was Kailey, the one pictured here. She remained very calm and collected as I settled into her orbit of the cleaning stations on the south side of the bay.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler
Kailey was named by the diver who first reported her existence to the Manta Pacific Research Foundation (MPRF). The great folks at MPRF identified her for me when I e-mailed them a photo. They do a wonderful job of monitoring the manta ray dive operations along the Kona Coast and have established guidelines for dive operators who offer Manta Night Dives. MPRF has also been instrumental in getting legislation passed to protect the resident manta rays of Hawai'i from fishing and capture for public aquaria.

Photo Copyright 2013 by Barry Fackler

Unfortunately, the ocean is an untamed environment and no organization can protect every manta from the countless hazards out there. Kailey is missing her entire left cephalic lobe. This is the fin-like extension that forms one of the manta's "horns". When unfurled, these lobes funnel plankton into the mouth during feeding. Fortunately, Kailey's injury is well-healed and she appears well nourished as well. Hopefully, she'll be around to delight divers and snorkelers for a long time to come.

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