Isla San Benedicto – Day 11…..

Dear F&F,
December 27, 2008

I feel like we are on a spiritual retreat, out here communing with the mantas. We have had so many wondrous experiences in a row. We do not take them for granted & are in complete awe with each creature that ventures near us. We just had another 45 minute highlight encounter. Chuck & Linda tied their dinghy up to ours where we anchored to dive & they snorkeled above us. After we came up & there were just the snorkelers, the same manta that played with us deeper, came up shallow to interact with them. I got back in the water & snorkeled with them while Scott followed us with the 2 dinghies.

Words cannot express the feelings of love & honor that we feel towards these beautiful beasts. Today\’s playmate was mouth to tail about 6-7 feet long, wing to wing 12 feet wide & we guess the weight is 1200 to 1500 pounds. And yet I feel so safe swimming under, beside, or over them. They really seem to like eye contact. The eyes are a blue grey to cobalt blue. They have an eyelid of sorts. It seems the eye rotates back under a protective flap. Scott has so much video footage that he is now switching to his still camera. He is loving every minute of such cooperative underwater subjects. Fish almost never pose like this! Today\’s manta just circled & circled & circled us, so close, eyeball to eyeball. Absolutely no fear.

Had lunch, pumped up the tanks & are ready to jump back in for the afternoon\’s possibilities.

Afternoon Report
Scott decided it was time to take the still camera in. He has plenty of great video footage to work with. He hasn\’t had much opportunity to use this digital camera & underwater housing up until now. Still photography is his main passion, but more challenging than shooting video. Video can be used in low light without strobes. Most of the time the still camera requires flash when underwater. When using the wide angle lens Scott attaches two hinged arms that each holds a strobe. When extended out fully the rig is 6 feet wide. That is a lot to drag around while swimming underwater. But Scott handles it with expertise.

As he was assembling his camera & housing he was sending out wishes to the underwater powers that be to have another friendly manta appear. He was not disappointed. I swam to secure the anchor while Scott started taking photos the minute we got down to our favorite 25 foot pinnacle. It was a different animal than the morning manta. Each has distinct markings. It was another very cooperative photography subject. I mostly stayed behind Scott so my bubbles wouldn\’t mess up his pictures. The manta swam circles around Scott giving him 120 opportunities to take breath taking shots. Back in the day when he used film, he got only 36 shots per roll, one roll per dive. Now the limitation is not running out of film, but running low on air. A picture speaks a thousand words, so I will sign off so you may go to the photo gallery and enjoy Scott\’s artwork. THESE PHOTOS WILL BE POSTED WHEN WE GET INTERNET ACCESS IN FEBRUARY, 2009.

Scott & Cindy