WEEK ONE SUMMARY, BY MIKE VEITCH
The first week of Manta Fest has come to an end, and unfortunately, some folks are leaving us today. However, we are looking forward to our next batch of arrivals over the coming days, which include several Wetpixel members! Over the last week, we have enjoyed Yap’s fine Manta diving with each and every one of our visits to Goofnuw Channel resulting in some kind of manta interaction. We have also visited the famous Yap Caverns, the mandarinfish dusk dive, and had a fantastic shark feed at Vertigo with over 20 grey reef sharks and a half dozen black tips—but no surprise visit by any silky sharks, unfortunately.
On Tuesday, most of the group headed to the village of Kadai for a “cultural tour,” which included a traditional stick dance by the village children, a traditional basket-making demonstration, and samples of local food. The highlight of the visit was certainly the betel nut experience, though. Everyone chewed the betel nut / lime / pepper leaf combo, including Mr. Cheng, who had his first betel nut ever! We are sure his mother will be proud…
Each evening, Mike and Eric have been presenting videos on the Mnuw, the phinisi-style schooner which acts as the Manta Ray Bay Hotel’s restaurant and bar. Topics have included slideshows and videos on Yap, Pacific reefs, diving Alaska, and photographing big animals. During the day there have also been seminars hosted by the Wetpixel team; unfortunately not too many folks have been showing up because they have been too busy diving! The biggest one so far was appropriately entitled, “How to Shoot Mantas”, and everyone came to that one. :)
The hotel has also organized Nitrox classes, Manta Awareness classes, and cultural seminars to be conducted for those guests who are interested in learning more than just photo or video related skills.
Although we have had a bit of rain in the evenings (which has made for interesting slideshow presentations), everyone is having a great time with the friendly staff of the Manta Ray Bay Hotel. We look forward to a second great week!
SHARK DIVE, BY NEIL ROSEWARN
Day 6 started well right from the time we woke up. Looking out from the Manta Bay Hotel, the sea was like a mill pond.
Two boats headed out to the Goofnuw Channel for the first 2 dives of the day. The visibility was pretty poor but the manta action soon made up for this. As soon as we approached the first cleaning station we were greeted by a manta, then as we approached the second, shallower cleaning station we were entertained by passing mantas for the first 30 minutes. Generally the mantas pass between the two cleaning stations then make their way back out of the channel. We are still waiting for some nice clear water on the incoming tide and still no sign of feeding, but we have had manta action on every dive at Goofnuw so far.
On the journey back to the hotel, anticipation was growing for the afternoon dive. This was to be the shark feed in the crystal clear waters of the ‘Vertigo’ dive site. A shallow reef meets an impressive drop off and deep blue water where the sharks hang out. We headed through the German Channel to the west side of the island and kitted up and got in quickly to ensure we got a good spot. Chomed, one of the guides signalled for me to go right to the edge to ensure I had a front seat view.
The sharks were plentiful, as I looked into the blue I could see numbers of grey reef sharks cruising up and down. Then more sharks turned up as the bait was positioned. The tuna bait is suspended in mid water about 10 feet above the reef.
There must have been 30+ grey reef and black tips sharks swimming around and getting stuck into the bait. The sharks would switch between calmly cruising by to an impressive feeding display.
Sitting behind a 10mm lens gives the impression that the bait and sharks are a good distance away… its only when you remove the camera you realise how close you are! Especially when 5 or 6 sharks start pushing the bait towards you!
Great action and a great experience, all well run by the Yap diving team. We had perfect flat calm conditions and crystal clear water, it doesn’t get much better.
- [Manta Fest 2008 Closing Words]
- [Manta Fest 2008 Day 7 Update]
- [Manta Fest 2008 Day 5 Update]
- [Manta Fest 2008 Day 3 Update]
- [Manta Fest 2008 Day 1 Update]