Thursday, April 02, 2009

March 28, 2009, Twin Islands, Andamans, India

We finished our overnight passage from Interview with a day stop at the Twin Islands. We originally dropped anchor at the edge of the channel between the two islands, in the middle of a cranking current. We had heard that manta rays feed in the current, and we wanted to hang out and have a look for them. We haven't been swimming with these wonderfully graceful creatures since French Polynesia. We were looking forward to seeing them again. But the current was causing us to bounce around so much that we decided to anchor elsewhere and come back in the dinghy. So we hauled up the anchor and headed around to the north corner of the East Twin.

We dropped the dinghy in the water and took off to snorkel the edge of the the reef. After being surrounded by all that raised dead coral at Interview, it was a relief to be diving among such healthy coral again. We continued down to the southern point of East Twin, where we spotted our first manta ray. Actually, all I saw was the uplifted fin of a manta pivoting, but it was enough to make us scramble to pull back on our masks and grab the camera and dive in. But by the time we splashed, the ray was long gone. We were disappointed, but figured where there is one, there are sure to be others. So we continued west into the channel.

In the channel, visibility was reduced, due to lots of particulate in the water. But that is what the mantas feed on, so it was a good sign. While looking for the mantas, we spotted several turtles, but they were very shy. They took off as soon as they saw us. By early afternoon we were getting hungry, and we were a bit rundown from the overnight passage. So, we climbed back into the dinghy and headed back to the boat. We'd almost given up on seeing another manta when we saw the broad, coal black back of one cruising the current line. It turned back towards us and we could see its gaping white mouth, straining food from the current. As it headed towards us, we were shocked by how big it was - much bigger than the ones we'd swum with Rangiroa. Its wing span was at least six feet wide. We stayed and watched him for a while, but eventually we had to get a move on if we were going to get to our anchorage for the night with any daylight left to find a sandy patch for the anchor.

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