An excited clanging jars my attention from the schools of yellow tailed snapper I’ve been watching. Brett, my dive guide, is ahead, his entire body tense, his arm pointing into the deep blue. He glances behind at us, gestures with two fingers extended.
I peer into the gloom, eyes peeled for movement. We are diving in the Similan Islands, and we are hoping to spot some manta rays.
Suddenly, I see the flash of white, bright in the big blue. Wings extended, barely moving, the manta glides into view, immeasurably massive, unbelievably graceful. I remember to breathe again, bubbles floating up into the ether, as the manta swoops close.
It’s joined soon by another and they loop back and forth, appearing like angels underwater. All the divers are motionless, hanging by a thread in the water, all eyes on the show in front of us.
As we watch, a third manta joins in. This one is smaller, a juvenile, with more white than black markings. The white manta seems curious, swimming through the divers bubbles, gliding in close for a better view.
Then, as suddenly as they appear, they’re gone, and the big blue returns to stillness.