You're floating, face down, hands tightly gripping the pad on the boom. Lights from the boat illuminate the sea floor some 30 feet down, and you've got other snorkelers to each side of you. Well below, a professional diver/videographer records the scene. When you see him shift, pointing his camera and lights to the side, a thrill runs through you unlike any experienced before. Something mixing a respectful awe with a sense of fear...
Then we see it. The diver swims backward as a large black shape cuts across the bottom. The manta. It swims effortlessly forward with a gentle thrust of its wings, executing a casual, almost lazy arc upward, and its pure white abdomen comes into view. The manta continues up on its curve, skimming just inches from the snorkelers.
Despite that heads and ears are under water, you hear the amazed exclamations of everyone around you, and it's almost impossible not to join in the chorus.The manta continues in what has now become a series of progressive arcs up, skimming the swimmers, and down again to the bottom.
Moments later it is joined by another, and yet another. They take turns, gently gliding through our view in a graceful ballet.
The show goes on for more than half an hour, and there's a sense of loss when it finally ends. Slowly the tourists are herded back onto the boats for hot chocolate and soup, excitedly chatting about the memory, which will persist for a lifetime.