|Swim-by on Dive 1|
|Kona Dive Company|
Now known as the "#1 Night Dive in the world", the Manta Ray Night Dive in Kona, Hawaii is something not to be missed. It can be done as a snorkel if you are not a certified diver, or as one of the most spectacular scuba dives anywhere on Earth.
|Diver, Manta, and Bubble Ring|
The crazy thing about this manta dive is that there is no pattern to let you know when there will be lots of manta rays or when there will be none. It doesn't seem to matter about moon phase, current, waves, wind, or any other factor. They average about six mantas a night but I've seen anywhere from 14 down to 1.
This time Heidi and I went for a two tank dive, one before sunset and one after. The dive site is called Garden Eel Cove because of the thousands of shy garden eels about 50 feet down on the sandy slope. We searched the reef on the first dive for signs of the elusive leaf scorpionfish and frogfish, managed to find a black-phase long nose butterflyfish, but were mostly interested in the groups of mantas swimming overhead up near the surface. I knew from experience that if you see mantas on the early dive then that is usually a good sign for the manta ray night dive later. And it was!
|Divers light up the mantas from below|
|Dreamlike Manta Experience|
|Heidi and her Manta|
|Heidi ducking for cover|
I experimented with adding light by using my underwater strobe, but the same plankton that lure the manta rays here also reflect back the light causing little white lights all over the picture. Then I tried turning off the strobe and bumping up my ISO to 800. This is about as high as I usually go with my ISO because it makes the picture too grainy or noisy. But it was still too dark, so I bumped it up to 1250 ISO which is where most of these came from. I really enjoy a good wildlife photography challenge and this is one of the best. Usually I just tell people to switch to video, sit back, and enjoy the show.
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|Another Close Encounter|