We mark the seasons here with the sightings of certain fish, and to mark summer approaching, our fishy calender has not failed us again this year….it’s Manta time! The Gardens are the best place for sightings, as the topography is ideal for them. The shallow reef wall, combined with the shelf and then the drop off acts as a food bowl, and its this bowl that the Manta feed from whilst cruising past the drop off. This topography is unique to the local sites, so it provides the best sightings.With the first couple appearing this week, the local boats are getting busier as people shun the National Park and Tiran in place of the chance to see one of these magnificent creatures up close and personal, and boy do they come close!
Our first dive at the Gardens fails to provide us with a sighting, and on surfacing we are all faced with text messages about a sighting at Tower, a site on the other side of the bay, so off we head.As we get in, we catch sight of a group exiting the water, excitedly shouting about the huge one they’ve just seen. Everyone scrambles to get in, and as soon as we set off it’s eyes in the blue. It’s a shame really as the sight is beautiful, but no-one is about the coral today! Apart from me. With a few guides in the water, I decide that if one appears I’ll literally hear about it (damn those tank bangers), so I concentrate on the reef. I spot a lovely lion fish taking shelter in a crevice, gearing up for tonights feeding session, and spot a great torpedo ray, blindly crashing into the reef as it swims along.
Just as I’m heading to the shallows, with no indication I’ve missed anything big, I spot a tiny baby nudibranch. I’ve never seen one so small. I hold my finger up for scale and realise it’s no bigger than the very tip of my nail. Wow, I’m stunned. However, as I go to back away, the water movement dislodges the little fella from his rock. I act quickly to gently guide him back, cupping my hands around him to provide a safe ‘water movement free’ zone as he slowly sinks back into position.
Happy that he’s safe and well, I surface with everyone else, knowing that I’ve seen something truly amazing today, even if no-one else did. Selfish?