Manta Ray

Day 338: 9 Mile

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

We woke to the perfect morning and enjoyed the sunrise from bed with not a breath of wind. Today was going to be a good day. After breakfast and a bit of cleaning up, we headed out in the tinny. Yvonne and Phil had left a few minutes before us, so we motored over to them at the edge of the channel. They had found some bombies that we didn’t know were there. Phil said that they used to be in the deep water, but now we were looking at them on the edge. We saw some chopping up a bit further south so Phil trolled towards it and then came back to us. By then the chopping up had come towards us, so we both started casting. I had a popper on and I saw something really big come up and have a go. On the second go I realised what was chasing my popper, a huge grey shark! I quickly retrieved it so that I wouldn’t lose my popper. We saw a shovel nose shark on the bottom below the boat, but that wasn’t what had a go at my popper.

We left Phil and Yvonne then and headed south, across the channel and towards the outer reef. It was calm today that we could move fairly fast, although there was a swell pushing through. We headed down to what we thought would be the Manta Ray cleaning station and circled over it looking for Manta’s. Well, it didn’t take long and we knew we had located the right spot. We found two Manta Rays having a clean. I lowered the anchor down and the four of us put on the rest of our snorkelling gear and quietly entered the water. We swam back over to the spot where we had seen them from above and out of the distance appeared the two Manta’s with their mouths open and little fish cleaning them. It was so very cool! These huge majestic creatures glide so effortlessly and with such grace. We followed them for ages and a couple of times we didn’t have to move as they circled below us. Then they separated and we stuck with one. Nath swam down with the GoPro and it swam towards him so he could see its face close up. It was unreal. I dived down to one and swam along with it for a while so I could see it close up and really get a feel for just how big they are. On average they were probably 5 – 8 metres below us. We then headed back to the boat to try to find more, but the spotter plane flew over the top of us and we looked towards Coral Bay and could see 2 Manta Tour boats on approach. We decided to have a quick look while they were on their way, but when they got close, we moved away to let the paying customers have their time alone.

We were very surprised how quickly one of the tours left. When the other tour left a while after them, we headed back to the cleaning station. It didn’t take us long again to find another Manta Ray by itself. As I lowered the anchor down, I hit the side of the boat with the chain and it made a loud noise. This brought the Manta up almost to the surface. Nath was the first in and I handed him to GoPro and said that we would catch up. It stayed near the surface and he had a fantastic interaction with it. He really pushed himself to make a great video, but when he came to the surface and the Manta went down, he realised that it had stopped recording as it tends to do. Highly frustrating I might add. Well, Nath was more than frustrated, let’s put it that way! By now Elokin, Hendrix and I were ready so we headed over to Nath and the Manta. It was now a long way down, but we swam above it and followed it around. It took us a fair way from the boat too. Eventually we decided to leave it alone and headed back to the tinny, looking for more Manta’s as we went. There was no more to be found, but we felt very happy with what we had already experienced.

Once back on board, we headed north and found a dugong. He was cruising along and we noticed that he had fish under him. We cast poppers near it but caught nothing. We then drifted over a broken weedy section and I caught a 45cm Spango on a popper. We decided to keep it as we were out of fish. We continued to drift and I could see the fish come up to attach my popper. It was really cool. I cast again and didn’t even get to pop it as a huge fish had smashed it. I hauled it in and found myself looking at a 60cm Spangled Emperor. Oh Yeah! How stoked was I. This fish put up a good fight but it was no match for me and my Daiwa. We let the 45cm one go and kept this big beauty as we could get more feeds out of him and still only take one fish home. After the successful release of the smaller fish, I cast again and hooked another Spango. This one was smaller than the previous 2 fish and was released. On another cast I again hooked a Spango, this one was another good size at 55cm and put up another good fight, but we released him as well as we already had our fish for the day. I then thought I would go for something a bit different and threw out a squid jig. After a while I managed to catch one squid, so we kept him as well. Nath was fishing for a spango now and hooked one that took him under a bombie. We thought he was going to lose the lot, but after some careful manoeuvring of the boat his lure was released and floated to the surface. We have no idea where the fish went, but he got off either way. After that he hooked something big but it busted him off pretty quickly. Elokin and Hendrix were paddling around the boat in the water having fun, while we were fishing. We did keep an eye out for sharks.

We arrived back at camp at 5 minutes to 4pm. Phil and Yvonne had seen a (Mako they think) Shark launch out of the water after we left them this morning. They had then promptly left that spot. The had a good day of fishing, catching a 90cm Spanish mackerel, a big Cobia, a big Spangled Emperor and 11 squid. What a great day!

Tonight Nath cut Hendrix’s hair as it was getting too long and scruffy, then he cut mine as it needed it. We sat out under the stars after the kids were in bed. Does it get any better than this!


Until next time…. Happy and Safe Travels.

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