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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

My Love of Rays

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I love everything in the ocean. Really. But I do have to confess to a very special feeling for rays. Stingrays, Eagle Rays, Manta Rays… they are breathtaking to watch, and I get excited every single time I see one. My love of the ocean I credit to my parents, as they took my brother and I to Florida every year for at least two weeks during my childhood. My love of marine animals began with Jacques Cousteau, who introduced me, through his tv specials, to a mysterious underwater realm with incredible, colorful creatures. As a child, I watched spellbound. Sincerely, the ocean and its inhabitants make me happy, fill me with childlike wonder, and I can never, never get enough. I love to photograph them (even though I am strictly an amateur).

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The first experience I ever had with rays was with Manta Rays. They were seen every summer off of Ft Lauderdale, Florida, and we were called out of the water immediately when they were sighted. I remember looking through the binoculars at a “devilfish” I found enthralling and graceful, though I was told they would “eat” me. As I began snorkeling and diving as a young adult, whenever a ray came near I was mesmerized. They fly through the water with graceful, undulating wings (flaps), and I have always found them beautiful. I love coming across them when they are buried in the sand, with just their eyes and spiracles visible. What a great photo that makes!

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When our children were small, we took them to the Cayman Islands several times. Of course we went to Stingray City. I went to Stingray City when I was pregnant, both times actually, and snorkeled above my husband while he was covered in Southern Sting Rays. They feel so very soft, especially underneath. Like velvet. Stingray City was every bit as much for me as the kids; it always amazed me, to snorkel, float, or to stand near so many beautiful rays.

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I saw my first Eagle Ray in Cozumel, and I was so excited I could barely breathe. Eagles are big and glorious as they fly through the water, and have “cheerios” markings.  They all fascinate me, from the small Yellow Rays to the Southern Stingrays, to the Eagles, the blue spotted, and the Queen of them all, the Manta.

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Seeing many new rays in Africa, I only saw two Mantas! Only two. Actually, my diving in Tofo was disappointing to me, but perhaps it was just the wrong season. For whatever reason, my visions of being surrounded by Manta Rays while diving did not materialize, at least not in Tofo. I did see Blue Spotted Rays, a Torpedo Electric Ray, one Mobula, a Jenkins Whiptail and a Honeycombed Whiptail, but I never saw the rare Small-Eye Stingray. I enjoyed seeing new and different rays, though.

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My desire for Manta Ray encounters continued, and I finally achieved a dive trip where I saw several Giant Mantas, Black Pacific Mantas, Reef Mantas… it is almost indescribable, diving with these curious, beautiful, mysterious giants. You can tell from their eyes that they are intelligent; you know they are “checking” you out. I took a million photos, and each dive was more thrilling than the next… rays and sharks! What could be better? That was our trip on the Solmar V to the Revillagigedos Islands… I want to do that again! I turned my photos over to the Pacific Manta Research Group, and I photographed one they hadn’t seen in 10 years! They graciously allowed me to name it, so I named it Jedi. May the force be with you.

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On Stocking Island in the Exumas, Bahamas, rays swarm the beach. AJ, the conch man, has been giving them scraps of conch for years and they gladly swim all over you in search of it!  I loved feeding them, touching them, and taking pictures. One of the rays was different, definitely NOT a Southern Stingray as the rest of them were. It felt sandy on top, not soft, and had very small eyes with a large head and thick tail. I’d never seen it before. After a few days of research I found my ray:  the Caribbean Whip Tail Ray!  I had never even heard of it.  I’m always excited when I see a new animal!

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And the epitome of my Manta Ray diving so far has been a Citizen Science trip I went on with Marine Megafauna Ecuador. Hundreds of them! I was in heaven! It is essential that we help these creatures; Mantas are endangered. The Marine Megafauna Foundation works very hard, as do other great organizations, to change that.  I urge you to take a look at their website and learn about these amazing creatures. I adopted a Manta and named her Daenarys Targareon, from Game of Thrones. Adopting a ray or a whale shark helps to protect these animals from extinction, and ending up in Chinese medicine and Shark Fin Soup. I urge you to visit them at www.marinemegafauna.org.  You will fall in love!  I certainly did.

For more from Tam, visit www.travelswithtam.com.

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Marine Biologist and Underwater Videographer Jake Davies (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Jake Davies, Marine Biologist, HSE Professional scuba diver, underwater videographer (using videos and 360 clips for VR) and CAA licensed drone pilot. 

Jake grew up on Pen Llŷn, North Wales and coming from a maritime family meant that from a young age the underwater world and marine life have played a major role in his life. His interest in marine life and the sea led to him studying Marine Biology at Bangor University where he was successful in obtaining a year in industry with the Intertidal & Coastal team at Natural Resources Wales.

In 2017 Jake was successfully awarded a Sea-Changers Grant to run ‘Dive Into Monitoring: Seagrass’ surveys with SeaSearch North Wales. The surveys aimed to gather updated information on the Seagrass bed in Porthdinllaen with volunteer divers and local dive clubs.

As a media diver, Jake has worked as part of the dive team (Marine Ecosol) filming for BBC Wales Hidden Wales with Will Millard (Lazerbeam Productions & Folk Films).

Footage which Jake has filmed off the Welsh Coast, as well as the Canary Islands, has been featured for a variety of BBC programmes including an episode of Countryfile where he was interviewed about the Seagrass in Porthdinllaen, Wales along with the rest of the Project Seagrass team. He is also a blogger and contributor to Scubaverse @JDScuba, and a co-director of Under Water Wales @dandwrcymru.

As well as being a HSE Scuba Diver Jake is also employed as the Project Coordinator for Angel Shark Project: Wales. He is also a Project Leader on a Save Our Seas Foundation Project.

Through sharing underwater videos and photos of amazing and unique wildlife/habitats that are found beneath the waves along the Welsh Coast as well as abroad Jake hopes to inspire people to go beneath the waves and making the underwater world more accessible for all.

Find out more about Jake and his work at: https://jakeddavies1996.wixsite.com/jdscuba


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Once in a lifetime magical sighting of an Albino Risso’s Dolphin… (Watch Video)

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Is there anything more rewarding during your surface interval after a great dive than seeing unusual animals in your surroundings?

It was November and we had been for a great dive with big fishes and a lot of macro animals in one of our favorite dive sites here in Anda, Bohol. After the dive, we immediately got our coffee and started chatting and debriefing our dive, exchanging thoughts, when our boat captain spotted something not so far from the resort. We rushed to the scene and it there we had the magical experience to see a pod of dolphins in front of us with a surprise sighting of an albino dolphin! Witnessing an albino animal in the wild is such a rare phenomenon – could anything be more exciting?!?!

Albinism results from the animal’s cells failing to produce the melanin pigment responsible for some body part colorations. Hence, this animal lacks the skin cell pigment resulting in it being a pinkish-white dolphin.

As we rushed to look at the dolphins after our dive, we noticed something white. It was so obvious that we could clearly see the white animal mixed with the grey individuals at a certain distance before we arrived. The first question that raised in my head was: “What species of dolphins are these?”

As I looked and observed, I noticed the recognizable lines or scratches all over their bodies (all of them that is except for the white one). Then, looking at their faces when we were closer, it was then I realized that they were Risso’s Dolphins. The white animal that we saw was a rare juvenile Albino Risso’s swimming with them. Ohlalah…. JACKPOT!!!! This was the highlight of a lifetime!!!

I started screaming with joy calling the beautiful animal “PUTI” which literally means white. With them swimming, we went close by to appreciate PUTI and the rest of the pod every time they surfaced for breathing. Together we shared about 20mins of full excitement. And we ended our surface interval incredibly happy and ready for the next exciting dive, waiting to be surprised underwater.

I will never forget this magical moment of the albino dolphin. Hopefully, PUTI and I will meet again sometime and I will be seeing this white beauty again, healthy and adorable.

Written by: Marlon Managa – dive center manager and Marine Biologist at Magic Oceans Dive Resort.


Visit Magic Oceans Anda, Bohol and Magic Island Moalboal, Cebu… find out more at www.magicresorts.online.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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