Giant Manta of The Andaman Sea
Here at Scubafish we are more than lucky to have the world-famous dive sites of Hin Muang and Hin Daeng within a two hour boat ride and we run trips here three times a week during High Season. Lucky because they are two dramatic and spectacularly diverse reefs. But lucky also because one of the most graceful and beautiful ocean giants is a regular visitor here – the Giant Manta.
The Giant Manta come to Hin Muang and Daeng to get cleaned. One of the most amazing sights of my life must be hanging in the channel of Hin Daeng at about 15 metres and watching the Manta forming an orderly queue for the cleaning station. And while they’re waiting its possible that sometimes they turn their attention to you. My best encounter was with a female of at least 5 metres across, who regally lowered herself to my level like a hovering space ship and looked me curiously in the eye. The photograph I took of her is below – you can see how close she came of her own accord – who knows what she thought I might be!
Manta Matcher is the international online database for manta identification. Any diver or snorkeler can upload their photo then Manta Matcher’s research team works to identify individual manta rays, track their migratory patterns, examine their life spans and generally learn more about one of the oceans most mysterious treasures.
The way to best photograph a manta for identification purposes is to get a clear shot of the underside. Each manta has a natural spotting pattern which is unique. Just like a fingerprint its allows Manta Matcher to individually identify them.
The professional photographers at Liquid Lense (the photography and videography sister company of Scubafish) work hard to correctly photograph and submit their images of the Giant Manta at Hin Muang and Daeng and by doing so are able to directly contribute to new findings and understanding.
For example, Manta Matcher recently commented they had yet to see any Manta traveling the 250km between the two Andaman reefs of Koh Bon in The Similans and Hin Daeng. However, after studying photo submissions of Liquid Lense photographer, Magnus Larsson taken at Hin Daeng and Marine Megafauna Foundation researchers’ photos taken at Ko Bon they were able to match two Manta moving between these sites. We are so proud at Liquid Lense of being able to help Manta Matcher learn more about manta migration and behaviour.
If you’re an Advanced Diver or above (or planning to do your Advanced Open Water Course or Adventure Deep Dive) we will happily take you out to Hin Muang and Hin Daeng. If you’re also an underwater photographer then why not join us with the express aim of correctly photoing a Giant Manta for submission to Manta Matcher? Or, if underwater photography is something you’ve always wanted to learn about, Liquid Lense offers a variety of course from beginner to advanced. And if you don’t have your own, we can rent you a camera. Just imagine if your first foray into underwater photographs leads to a research-quality image of a Giant Manta!
The more people to get involved and make submissions, the more we can learn. And for protecting and safeguarding these amazing creatures, information, knowledge and education is the key.