Seeing a Whale Shark or a Manta Ray on a dive is something very special, exciting, over powering, fantastic, whatever word comes to mind, it is simply amazing. Seeing them both on the same dive is something else altogether, words can not describe the feeling. Many of the customers on board the Scuba Explorers first Similans trip of the season got to experience this feeling on the first day at Koh Bon.
This dive was the third of the day, we had already done one dive at Anitas reef (or Coral reef, whichever you would like to call it) at Similan Island no 5/6, and the second dive at Koh Bon West Ridge. Both dives, whilst fun were nothing as spectacular as the third. At Anitas reef there is a big bomby full of big schools of shinning Glassfish, beautiful soft corals, Giant Gorgonian sea fans,even a one of a kind pink anemone on the top which had been bleached some years back by the raising water temperatures. the first dive on Koh Bon West ridge gave us 20m visibility, warm waters, a lot of life with schools of Emperor Snappers, Big Eyed Snapper, Chequered Snapper, Red Tooth Trigger fish, all coming in to feed in the morning. We also found a few oddly shaped Maldivian Sponge Snails.
Our next dive was the one not to have missed, we started to the North of the West Ridge this time and had been in the water no more then 5 minutes when I heard the frantic banging of the tour leaders tank, knowing there must be something big out there we all followed where he was pointed, out for the blue came a 4m Whale Shark, not big by Whale Shark standards but impressive by ours, the whole boat saw it and there were people excitedly high fiving in the water, having just ticked something of their ‘bucket list’. Koh Bon being famous for Manta Rays, it is rare to see a Whale hark there, I have not heard of anyone seeing one there before, unfortunately it did not stay with us too long, too many excited divers chasing it to get a better photo.
My group decided against going after more sightings of the Whale Shark and decided to continue onto the Ridge in search of the Majestic Manta Ray. 5 minutes later we were rewarded. We were swimming towards a cold thermocline, with it they bring nutrients the big stuff feed on so we were hoping of a sighting, out of it swimming gracefully towards us was a big 5m Manta Ray. For the next half hour we hung in the water as it swam around us, feeding and playing. Others divers saw us and came to join the spectacle. It turned out half the boat had gone off in pursuit of another Whale Shark Sighting and missed the Manta Ray whilst the other half had done what we did and continued to the ridge.
This Manta Ray was not bothered by the divers watching it, inquisitive animals they stay with you as long as you do not chase them.
Getting back on the Scuba Explorer we couldn’t wait to share our experience, photos and videos with each other. A Whale Shark and a Manta Ray in the same dive, a first for all of us, it does not often happen, it certainly was a special day indeed.