Lionel, Pt 9: The Guardians See Manta Rays

All the underwater pictures in this post are by courtesy of Tom Cannon Photography and Film. Tom has lived in the Coral Bay Area for six years and is an enthusiast of the marvels of the Ningaloo fringing reef and of all marine life. He was with us that day taking pics.

The story so far: Lionel, excited by seeing pictures of Tasmanian Tigers, decided to seek his long lost fore-lions. He and Gavin hitched a ride north from Perth to Geraldton, Western Australia, then onward to the Shark Bay heritage region (Part 4 ) where they saw wild emus. Finally, they arrived at Coral Bay (Part 5.). After searching the beach and dunes and the hinterland, they flopped about and ate ice creams. Lionel and Gavin’s Chauffeurs, the Guardian and Guardian-ess, boarded the good ship Ningaloo and saw coral and sharks and lots of fishes.

The manta ray tour vessel on a perfect day at Ningaloo Reef
The manta ray tour vessel. Perfect weather and great snorkelling

Next, the ship crew took them to view Manta Rays. Excitement ran high. First the crew explained that after mantas rays were spotted from the air- if we were lucky – the skipper would position the vessel ahead of them. We tourists were to sit on the backboard in two groups .Those of us in each group would slip into the water together and, if all went to plan, be able to see the rays approach below us. If we were very lucky, the water would be clear and we would watch the mantas rays serenely swim along under us and not dash off.

Manta ray taken from the ocean bed looking up by photographer Tom Cannon
Manta ray taken from the ocean bed looking up by photographer Tom Cannon

All went well. The boat was perfectly positioned. We slipped off the boat and hung in the water looking down as a big ray approached below. Then it was joined by another! They swam in formation, wing to wing. In his elation, your correspondent nearly sucked in all the water from his snorkel.

Big manta ray swimming serenely along . Photo by Tom Cannon
The rays barely seemed to move their wings. They glided along.

The two rays appeared to be barely expending any energy. Their big ‘wings’ moved slowly up and with ease. But when, as a group, we followed, their pace turned out to faster than it looked. I spluttered and heaved to keep up.

Two manta rays at Ningaloo Reef Photo by Tom Cannon.
Two! Suddenly there were two of them.

Meanwhile, the skipper moved the vessel ahead of the path of the big animals again and dropped the second group. The Guardian-ess had to adjust her gear and was last to go in but to her shock and delight she found herself looking straight down on a manta ray. This turned out to be a third one.

Three manta rays at Ningaloo Reef.
Photo by Tom Cannon
And then there were three!!!

By this point, all of us tourists had bunched in one group again as we hovered above these amazing animals as long as we could. But soon only the strongest swimmers could keep up, and then they lost them too.

Three manta rays at Ningaloo Reef.
Photo by Tom Cannon. One expells air.
Three manta rays, one expelling air.

The manta rays never even seemed to care that we were there. That doesn’t always happen. Often they swim off in a flash and all that snorkelers get to see is a flash along the sea bed. After we scrambled aboard, the crew told us that they hadn’t seen 3 rays together for months and that we had all been very fortunate. What a great day.

That was the highlight of our stay in Coral Bay by the Ningaloo Reef. Two days later we set off south for home. But did Lionel and Gavin ever spot those elusive fore-lions? Don’t miss the final instalment of…. Da da da daaah dummmm … Lionel Seeks His Fore-Lions.

Mawson Guardian Says: Gavin and Lionel live with Mawson Bear. Mawson writes little books full of muddles , bafflements, and even some accidental wisdom.
Where to find Mawson’s Books: Our publisher is OdysseyBooks where you can find fun and beautiful books with pictures for grownups.At Amazon everywhere, including at Amazon Australia (where Mawson Lives), Amazon UK and Amazon France, among others.

You have wandered into Mawson Bear’s web-den. Mawson is a Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps) and the Writer-Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In  and Dreamy Days and Random Naps and She Ran Away From Love.

Published by Baffled Bear Books

I am Mark, Guardian of Mawson Bear. Mawson is a big hearted, soul searching Writer-Bear. His little books are stuffed with moments of happiness for frazzled grownups. Why not slow down and relax a while with Mawson's friends in their cosy, whimsical world. Refresh the soul in the tranquility of innocent hours and simple joys.

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