It was a 55 minute dive busy with animal encounters from Broadclub Cuttlefish at 22m just 3 minutes into the dive, to Harlequin Ghost Pipefish, Hawksbill Sea Turtle, and finally to the usual suspects as we ended the dive at 5m over a sea grass bed; so we thought.
As we rounded up the divers after safety stop, an unusual figure was spotted laying on the sea grass at 4m. In my mind, I was hoping it wasn't what I thought it was.
At only 2.5m across, this young Manta Ray lay dead. Not for very long. On further investigation, a round puncture wound was found behind its left eye. It had no other bite marks or visible injuries.
It could have been a failed catch by a fishermen which left the wounded, fleeing Manta to die later, or death from natural causes. We don't want to speculate, we just know it's a such a waste if these beautiful animals were still hunted, especially if it was done in the viscinity of a Marine Protected Area.
For many divers with us that day, it was their first encounter with a Manta Ray. We took the opportunity to tell them more about this graceful animal in the hope they will spread the word that it needs our help to get it protected from man-made threats.