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Transplanted to Miami, FL, from Iowa City, IA. Trying to find a balance between reading, knitting, playing mom taxi, and enjoying the sun and sand in Miami.

Friday, March 04, 2011

My First Three Certified Dives, There be Mantas Here!

Hubby and I got certified on a Tuesday, and on Thursday, we did our first dives as certified divers. We went out in the late afternoon on a boat with 3 of our friends who have been certified for over a decade. Normally dives are two tanks, you do one dive, come back up for an hour or so and then go down with a fresh tank. For this dive we were doing 3 tanks. We again went out with Jack’s Diving Locker, the finale of this dive trip was going to be the Manta Ray night dive. 
We had gone back and forth during the week about whether or not to do the night dive, but after discussing it with our instructor, Sven, we decided to go for it. This night dive is kind of unique to the big island of Hawaii, and some people come specifically for this dive. Who knows if we’ll ever get back to Hawaii, especially to the Kona area.
Our first stop was at a site called Carpenter’s House. This area had lava tubes and a canyon of sorts. It was really fun to swim through there. There were a lot of little puffer fish, so cute! We went down to 50 feet on this dive and were underwater for about 43 minutes. Water temp was about 75 F and visibility was very good. We got a nice snack of crackers and cheese on the boat after the dive. 
The second stop was at a spot called Pyramid Pinnacle. There were large pinnacles covered with coral that were amazing to circle around and look at all the different life living there. On this dive we saw a scorpion fish, a large moray eel in its hidey-hole, and we saw a small moray eel out hunting. It was approaching dusk as we finished this dive and I started feeling cold in the water toward the end of the dive. We only went to 40 feet on this dive and stayed down for about 45 minutes, visibility was very good and water temp was still 75 F. We had sandwiches after this dive, and they were very yummy. Jack’s gets large sandwiches that they slice up. 
Our final dive of the night, which was my seventh dive total in Hawaii, was at Garden Eel Cove. This was the night dive. Our friends that were with us had all done dive before. One couple had done it about 14 years ago and had a good experience. Our other friend had done the dive twice and never seen mantas. We hoped that he wasn’t going to jinx us on this dive. When we arrived at the spot, there were already snorkelers in the water, and we could already see mantas under the water. We couldn’t wait to get in the water!
It was really cold, and I was not looking forward to putting on that soaked wetsuit again. But, once we got geared up and got in the water it felt a little better. We descended to about 25 feet and found a seat in the rubble and settled in for the show. There were at least eight mantas swimming around, our dive master, Jeff, thought there was probably closer to 15 mantas. They are so big! and yet they look so graceful swooping around to feed on the plankton. All of the divers and snorkelers had lights to attract plankton, then the mantas come in to feed. We watched the mantas for 20 minutes or so. But a few of us, um especially me, were having trouble staying planted. I was getting knocked all over the place.So, the five of us and our dive master went on a bit of a walkabout to get a bit of a more traditional night dive. We saw a good size moray eel out hunting, we watched him for several minutes and eventually saw him catch and eat a fish. We were hoping he would have to “knot” the fish to eat it, our dive master, Jeff, had told us about this phenomenon, and the fish the eel caught was pretty large, but he just wolfed it down. I was hoping to spot an octopus, but no dice. However, I did spot two small squid, unfortunately, I was unable to get anyone else’s attention, so no one else saw them. 
One member of our group seeing things seemed to be a theme. One of our friends had seen a sting ray, which are very rare to see in and around Hawaii, they dive masters on our boat thought it must have been a different kind of ray, like an eagle ray, but my friend had video. After some teasing, she showed the video and was vindicated. Luckily, people believed I had seen the squid because I didn’t have photographic evidence. 
Overall, our first certified dives were great. I am glad we were part of a small group, and the manta rays were amazing. I think they were the highlight of our trip. So, a thanks and shout out to Jack’s Diving Locker in Kona, Hawaii and to our scuba diving friends who finally talked us into getting certified!

Manta Ray Dive check out the video! This is not our actual dive, but gives an example.