• Welcome to ScubaBoard


  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

The giant manta rays of ecuador

Discussion in 'South America' started by laurenceh, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. laurenceh

    laurenceh Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: utila & chicago
    593
    258
  2. aoo

    aoo Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Philippines
    26
    3
    HI laurenceh,

    What a great video of such beautiful animals!

    Where in Ecuador did you see these giant mantas? How accessible to either Quito or San Cristobal is the location?

    A group of us from the Philippines are going to Ecuador next year to do a liveaboard to the Galapagos. It would be great if we could stop by and check these wonderful creatures out while we are already in Ecuador. Make the most of the long trip.

    Thank you in advance for your answers.
     
  3. laurenceh

    laurenceh Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: utila & chicago
    593
    258
    its all about timing. the giant mantas only gather in large numbers during august-september (sometimes in late july and/or early october).
    to dive with them you have to be based in puerto lopez on the southwest coast of mainland ecuador.
    puerto lopez is about three hours drive from quayaquil or from quito its a 50 min flight to the city of manta and then an hour or so drive from manta airport.
    the giant mantas congregate around isla de la plata which is about 18 miles (1 hr by boat) from puerto lopez. exploramar diving based in puerto lopez runs trips to isla de la plata every day, for the last two years a group i've been with has booked out one of their boats for two weeks (they have two dive boats) and we've seen giant mantas every day, some days dozens. this year in only two weeks we photo ID'd over 500 individuals.
    exploramar is a great dive co., solid divemasters and michel the owner is also a marine biologist, very informative and great guys to hang out with.
    i was diving the galapagos last year, prior to going to puerto lopez, it made an amazing trip. wolf and darwin were amazing (i wasn't terribly impressed with the other dives) and the giant mantas at isla de la plata was the icing on the cake. this year i did the giant manta trip but for financial reasons skipped galapagos.
     
  4. aoo

    aoo Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Philippines
    26
    3
    Oh, we are booked for end of April early May time frame so will be there at the wrong time. Too bad about the timing as it sounds like a great trip to go see the giant mantas. Oh well, another time, hopefully... although coming from the Philippines, Ecuador is pretty far.

    Yes, we are very excited about the trip to the Galapagos. This will be our first time there and we consider ourselves lucky to have a chance to get to one of our "bucket list" dive destinations.

    Thank you very much for the info. I will file it away for future reference.

    Happy diving.
     
  5. Dom@DiveAdvice

    Dom@DiveAdvice Contributor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: South of France
    569
    145
    Great video Laurence - special place. For those who are interested, in conjunction with Project Elasmo we can arrange stays at Puerto Lopez and diving with the Giant Mantas between June and October. Great addition to a Galapagos trip where we charter a lot of live-aboards. Contact us if you need more info and I am happy to send you more details. dom@diveadvice.com
    Dominick Macan
    Dive Advice Travel
    dom@diveadvice.com
    www.DiveAdvice.com

    "In Partnership with Amazing Adventures Travel of Mill Valley, California"
     
  6. Grost

    Grost New

    3
    2
    Hey Laurence; so I'm heading off to Isla de la Plata to meet the mantas this year, which judging by your videos should a fantastic experience, and I'm wondering what sort of surface condition and water temperatures to expect? I've seen a variety of opinions about it online, but often based on Galapagos, Manta, etc. so I'm interested in the reality of conditions between August-October for Puerto Lopez & Isla de la Plata. Main consideration is whether I take semi-dry wetsuit or drysuit, as I've heard the cold sub-surface currents can get chilly, but then if I take a drysuit I don't want to be stuck in a sweaty plastic bag on the surface! What did you end up using, and how did you fare with it?

    Thanks in advance...
     
  7. laurenceh

    laurenceh Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: utila & chicago
    593
    258
    hello "GROST". i spent a month there in 2010 and three weeks last year, first of all the diving is amazing. in 2011 we i.d.'d 500+ individual giant mantas in three weeks, most days it was literally wall to wall big guys. and they are very interested in us, expect some encounters to last for 10-15 minutes, often they'll even follow you up to your safety stop. it's hard to get out of the water, i've never done so much buddy breathing or so many emergency assents, it just so hard to drag yourself away!!! expect to see many breaching mantas and humpbacks and to hear whales singing while you're under.
    bring a warm, water proof jacket to wear on the boat. its an hour or more's boat ride in each direction from puerto lopez to isla de la plata and it can be cool and wet some days and on the way home you'll be tired, so staying warm is key (especially if, like most of us, you want to sleep on the way back). our boats had a head and most people got out of their wetsuits between dives.
    the water is cool and some of the thermoclines can be positively cold (mid 60's f). i used a 5mm wet suit with a 3mm shortie over the top and i was cold by the end of the second dive (in the caribbean i dive without a wetsuit). in 2010 some of my group wore dry suits but in 2011 most changed to 5mm, or 7mm semi-dry, except for dr.andrea marshal who just wore a skin most days, brrrrr.
    the currents can be absolutely crazy, bring gloves, there will be dives where you will be hanging on for dear life. bring an inflatable sausage and get comfortable with the idea that on some dives your group will get separated and you will be on the surface for a while waiting to be picked up.
    also expect to be saddened by the situation, although isla de la plata is supposed to be a protected national park with a 3 mile no fishing zone around it, you will have wahoo fishermen trawling over you on most dives and 90% of the mantas are trailing hook and lines or are horrifically scarred by mono-fiber line. we removed lines from dozens of mantas (it was as if they were coming to use for help, so bring knives but surgical scissors are better) and we air bag lifted hundreds of feet of abandoned nets from the reefs). last year the fishermen had even set up a fuel dump on isla de la plata, less than 500 meters from the park wardens headquarters. add to that the dozens of hammerhead and thresher sharks you'll see laid out on the beach at puerto lopez most mornings. none of the environment laws are being followed and the local authorities are too scared of the ever-increasing number of fishermen to do anything about it. prepare to be depressed.
    hopefully you're diving with exploramar dive co., there are a few others in puerto lopez but they seemed like complete cowboys taking really inexperienced divers out to really advanced dive sites, we even saw them dropping tourists onto extreme currents without even a divemaster. dive with exploramar, this is not the place to muck around with amateurs .
    if you're looking for an inexpensive but decent hotel in puero lopez i recommend hotel pacifico, its right on the main street right next to the beach. you won't want to hang on the beach much, august-october is mostly cloudy but all the little cocktail stands are fun in the evening.
    if i can be of any other help, don't hesitate. prepare to have your socks knocked off, there's nothing quite like a 20 foot giant manta staring very intently into your eyes!
     
  8. Grost

    Grost New

    3
    2
    Thanks Laurence, that's useful for sure, and I think I'll end up taking a 7mm semi-dry to keep the balance, and leave the drysuit at home this time. I'm heading over in a few days, and itching to get in the water with mantas again, as I've recently spent some time over in Mozambique with Andrea, so I've already got some idea what it may be like. That said, I've heard some crazy stories about the breaching humpbacks! Thanks for the hotel recommendation too...could come in useful.

    All the best, and hopefully I'll be back with videos to post!
     
    laurenceh likes this.
  9. Manuel Sam

    Manuel Sam Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boston
    402
    76
    Hi Laurence,

    Apparently the video is no longer available?

    In any case, just wondering what the largest number of mantas in one group has been. Are we talking like what was seen in the past in Hanifaru in Maldives (over 100 in one group)?

    Thanks,

    Manuel
     
  10. laurenceh

    laurenceh Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: utila & chicago
    593
    258
    we i.d'd over 500 individuals in four weeks, the scientist on the project (dr. andrea marshall ), believes its the largest gathering of giant manta rays in the world. you can see footage here:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU-IOqvLCg4
     

Share This Page