Two things to cover in this post! First up, we finally got to visit the dive site called Anau; frequent home of the Bora Bora manta rays - exciting! Secondly the fantastic Cécile Berthe who is working as our Project Manager and overseeing/helping us out from her position at the Insular Research Center and Observatory of the Environment (also known as CRIOBE) has agreed to write a guest post.
On to anau
Now as fun as it would be to just dive every day for the next 6 months (and believe me we considered it) we’ve been on a self-imposed diving ban the last few days so we could work on some project bits. The agreed exception was if there was a trip to Anau on the cards and this morning we got the call that we were on! Anau is round on the East side of the island and close to the coast. It’s so close to shore in fact that if there is heavy rain all the soil and silt that runs off from the mountain turns the water to soup. Diving in that kind of water is not only rather difficult but also you can’t see your hand in front of your face let alone a manta ray! The reason it’s so popular with mantas is that it’s highly productive…this means full of delicious plankton, a manta’s favourite food. It didn’t disappoint and we were treated to three reef mantas ranging from a small one at around 1.5m to a large female at 2.5-3m. So awesome, great to know they are around and what a start to our manta diving!
Above photo by Bex of one of the mantas we saw today…all the planktonic food in the water makes it great for manta rays but not so great for taking photos.
Hello from Cécile
Hopefully this is the first of what will become a regular feature of this blog. We’d like to introduce you to some of the manta-friendly people we meet along our way. Folks that have helped us out with the project, with diving, with manta info etc. and Cécile is a great starting point. She is always on hand for any questions we have and has led this project and directed us since we’ve been in French Polynesia. Over to you Cécile…
“My name is Cécile. I’ve lived in French Polynesia for 5 years and work at the Insular Research Center and Observatory of the Environment as communication assistant. I’ve dived since highschool. But as I am from the North of France, I used to dive in lakes or in the sea where you barely see your hand…I dreamed about coral reef ecosystems through aquariums I visited that showed me all the beauty the underwater world has to offer.
One day I had the chance to fly to the Pacific islands. My first Manta encounter happened in New Caledonia. She was alone and we were three divers amazed by this huge female flying in front of us. Since then I’ve had more chances to spend many more times with Manta rays in French Polynesia, where they seem to have a peaceful place to live. Here they are not chased, just observed by passionate people.
I decided to join a local organization, the Observatoire des requins et des raies de Polynésie (ORP), that works to increase knowledge about these animals and encourage sustainable behaviours around them so that humans and sharks/rays can live together for a long time.”
Thank you Cécile and thanks for all your help so far.
Until next time,