Magic Mountain was one of the first dive sites on the trip. Our eyes and our mind were already amazed by the richness and beauty of the previous immersions where, among other things, a few pygmy seahorses and colorful shrimps of various shapes were seen. There, clouds of fish made up of thousands of individuals as well as a splendid underwater decor flirted and played with the reflection of the surface. At that time, we did not expect a second to attend the spectacle which was going to be offered to us. After barely two minutes of immersion and we saw a Manta ray hovering between the water. By paying a little more attention, we could vaguely distinguish other dark forms in the distance.
It was not one but eight Manta rays (Mobula alfreidi) that swam around us. The show was absolutely magical!
The magic of the moment was also due to the decor in which these giants of the seas were evolving: a reef overflowing with life and color where anthias, schools of carnage and platax worked their way through the incessant ballet of the Mantas. The presence of potato groupers and napoleons was not anecdotal. However, one of the Manta ray was different from its peers because of its plump belly and its cephalic fins were swollen. No doubt the birth was iminent, this future mother was followed by many males and the school was about to welcome a new member.
A school of orbicular batfish (Platax orbicula- ris) photographed on the Magic Mountain dive site.
Reef manta ray (Mobula alfreidi) ready to give birth.
[Picture 1]: The fantastic ballet of manta reefs (Mobula alfreidi).
Attention, Manta enceinte en approche!
Mobula ray of reef "Black & White"
[Picture 2]: Reef manta ray ready to give birth.
[Picture 3]: A magnificent Napoleon (Cheilinus undulatus) followed by a blue trevally (Caranx melampygus) who never stray too far from this specimen. It is rare to be able to photograph Napoleon fish so closely without attracting them by feeding (not to practice).
[Picture 4]: An underwater formation colonized by multicolored soft corals
[Image 5]: A sea arch from the Misool region
Following this incredible dive with manta rays, it was inconceivable to dive only once on a spot as fantastic as Magic Mountain! So, we asked to go back there the next day at roughly the same time in the late after- noon around 4 p.m. Were the Manta rays going to offer us a new ballet? Nothing was less certain! After a few minutes to move in the midst of the batfish and other tropical fish, the sky suddenly covered, the light suddenly disappeared! Did a cloud hide the sun? No!
Out of nowhere, an Oceanic Manta ray (Mobula birostris) sliding between two waters obstructed the sun.
It was of gigantic size, much larger than the Manta rays of reef of the previous day which already made four meters fifty of span. This one had to exceed six meters. We were amazed by her majestic swimming and her extraordinary size. Our presence clearly did not seem to worry or disturb her during her many visits. We stayed motionless as close as possible to the reef, with our bubble-free rebreathers we then became almost invisible. It is the magic of diving in a rebreather that allows you to observe and contemplate this underwater world as it acts and interacts without the presence of man. This is how I was able to take some photographs of this majestic Manta as close as possible to the reef and its inhabitants with fins. Unquestionably, dives on Magic Mountain have their place in the top ten of the most beautiful dives of my life!
Oceanic manta ray against the light (Mobula biros- tris).
Océanic manta ray (Manta birostris) photographed on a magnificent coral reef overflowing with life
We do not realize it in the photo, but this Ocean Manta ray is huge !!!
Certainly one of the most beautiful photos of this cruise, and one of the most beautiful moments with this magnificent and gigantic ocean manta ray (not to be confused with its cousins the much smaller Mobula alfréidi rays). They were spinning gracefully on the Magic Mountain reef. I took the opportunity to photograph it with this magnificent underwater scenery.
A yellow alkionaire contrasts with blue.
Coral potato colonized by a great diversity of gorgo- nians of different colors.
School of orbicular batfish encountered at the Magic Mountain site.