Dancing with Mantas and an unexpected whaleshark


Our final day on this epic trip diving the Archipelago Revillagigedo was to be on the famous San Benedicto dive site called The Boiler. An impressive, three stage pinnacle that peaks just below the surface. Having watched video clips and looked at so many images from this dive site in the past, we knew anything could happen here, given a bit of luck. Our diving day meant that we would fit in 4 dives before we started the long journey back to the mainland.

It was just one of those days. On the first dive, we explored the rock, and then, after about 20mins, a Giant Manta came to see us. Whilst on this trip, the crew have given us a series of talks about these amazing creatures and we have learnt a lot about them. They have huge brains, and whilst it might seem hard to believe, they seem to want to communicate with us. This first encounter of the day certainly made us believe! This gentle, but enormous, fish came up to each diver individually. Caroline decided to try to engage it and stretched her arms and camera out wide. The manta instantly responded by stopping, spreading it wings and hovering vertically in the water right in front of her. Caroline wiggled one arm, and the manta unfurled its cephalic lobe and wiggled it right back. All the while, this beautiful creature intensely kept eye contact. It was an amazing moment. The dive deck was buzzing after this first dive, with all 5 groups getting a close encounter with this and other mantas.

The second dive was even better, if that was possible, because our skipper dropped us right on a whaleshark, literally! It is not the season for whalesharks here, but this juvenile, around 4 meters in length, did a couple of tours of the rock before heading back out into the blue. Nick, descending and whilst still sorting his camera, got bumped by the biggest fish in the sea, and grabbed a shot of its tail as it continued slowly around us. Then 4 or 5 Giant Mantas turned up too and it was hard to know where to look. We hovered at around 15 meters and the mantas circled around us, shivering their wings in our bubbles, pulling flying stunt manoeuvres, and, seemingly enjoying our company.

The day simply could not continue like this could it? Well no…. the current picked up and whilst we did see another manta on our third dive, we simply could not swim against the moving water and ended up out in the blue, drifting quickly. We deployed our SMBs and headed back up to the surface. But the joy of the previous two dives was still very much with us, and so we happily returned to the boat to relax for an hour or so.

Our final dive was upon us. It delivered another incredible manta encounter and another drift out into the blue. We have done 23 dives and one night snorkel with silky sharks during our 6 days of diving on Nautilus Belle Amie. The group has seen an incredible number of sharks: Whitetip, Silvertip, Tiger, Whale, Galapagos, Hammerhead and Silky Sharks. We have seen dolphins, tuna, jacks and Wahoo. And, of course, we have seen the Giant Mantas, in both their Chevron and Black forms. But this final day of diving was truly awesome.




For more from Nick and Caroline, visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

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