Dr Andrea Marshall, co-founder of the Marine Megafauna Foundation, explains: “Explore new aggregation sites with us, encounter mantas in remote destinations, photo-document manta rays for upload to Manta Matcher, participate in research activities, investigate manta ray fisheries and receive lectures from world-class biologists as a part of your package. The goals of each of the expeditions are unique but every trip is tailored to engage participants while producing high quality science.”
I have been on several of these expeditions, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. It is exciting and rewarding to be able to participate in the field with scientists who not only share, but live, your passion for the ocean and its inhabitants. No matter where I go, I take Manta ID or Whale Shark ID photos so I can upload them to the Manta Matcher or the Wildbook of Whale Sharks database. You can do it too! Find out how by clicking on Ray of Hope Expeditons! Check out my other Citizen Science trips. Africa, Ecuador, Yucatan, St Lucia, and Komodo (now publishing).
Our second day of diving in Indonesia’s islands on the Arenui Boutique Liveaboard was non-stop excitement. Our first reef was Bontoh where I saw my very first Ghost Pipefish! Each dive showed me more and more animals I had never seen before. To see these “exotic” creatures was intoxicating! The sand on these reefs is black, or at the least, very dark, and this is due to the volcanic activity the area has had. One had to be very careful – make one wrong move and sand flies up like a cloud.
The night dive on Day 2 was at Bontoh. Diving at night is an ethereal experience with different animals entirely. Looking up, you could see the moon and the stars at the top of the water column. When looking around the reef, I found only miracles of nature.
Our dive group consisted of Andrea Marshall, Queen of Mantas, myself, Alan, Tom, and our dive guide, Debbie. Each dive was better than the last!