After Bali, we visited Labuan Bajo in Flores to see the Komodo dragons and to snorkel. From Labuan Bajo we took a small speed boat and at the back they had seats so you could relax and feel the wind blowing on your face and legs and after a while we arrived at a beach called Pink Beach. It is called pink beach because of the shallow waters where all the pinky and red corals are. Small red pieces of red coral mix with the normal grains of sand to produce the colour effect and when the sand catches the sunlight it is very beautiful with all the different pinks and reds.
We put our mask and flippers on and went to snorkel in the ocean and we saw lovely rainbow coloured fish in yellow, black, blue and green and orange clown fish. Some part of the water was cold and some part was warm. After seeing all the beautiful life in the ocean we went back to our boat to a place called Manta Point where we could see Manta rays.
The Manta rays like to live in the ocean near the equator and the tropics and near the coast. They have flat bodies and they don’t have bones like humans, they have cartilage which is like a piece of plastic and humans have it in their nose and ears. Do you know why the Manta rays have the name Manta? It is because in the olden days, the fishermen put a blanket in the water to catch the Manta rays and Manta means cloak or blanket in Portuguese and Spanish.
Manta rays have the largest brain out of all of the fish in the sea even bigger than a blue whale and they also breach and jump up and down the water like the humpback whale we went to see in Australia. They have pectoral fins which allows them to move through the water flapping their arms. I saw them when I went snorkelling and they went really slowly through the water and it was very peaceful and it was quiet like meditating and they were gazing at the water and swimming through it and it was very beautiful. I felt very happy to be with them and see their families (there was a small one and a big one and a medium one so I think they were all families) and they were about 9 mantas swimming. We were next to them in a line like when we line up in school to get into class and I felt so glad to be with them but I was quite scared because they are very big and when they open they mouth very wide and it was very scary because I thought they were going to eat me but it was such an amazing experience seeing them.
We got in the water and swam with the Manta rays which was so amazing but we were a little bit scared at first because we were stung and we thought that there were lots of jellyfish in the ocean but we could not see anything and our guide said that we were stung by these tittle Zooplankton which are what the manta rays eat and it did not hurt that much at all.
Zooplankton in olden greek means animal (zoo) and drifting (plankton) and they can’t swim against the current and they just drift and let the water take them anywhere. They can be like a tiny winy crab, an egg or a krill which is like a little shrimp, a tiny worm, a really small squid and jellyfish.
The Manta rays are very harmless and they don’t go near you at all and they don’t touch you with their big fins. As the Manta rays swim in the water they open their wide oval mouth and the little zooplankton come in it and they have little filters which catch the zooplankton. The animals that do what manta rays do (like clams, baleen whales, some fish like some sharks and also some birds such as flamingos and certain species of ducks) are called filter feeders. The Manta rays trap the zooplankton thanks to their filters which is called gill plates or gill rakers which they have in their mouth and on their tummy and they look a bit like lots of feathers really close together and that is how the zooplankton gets stuck and then they let the water out through the gill plates in their gill slits on their tummies and its very good for the ocean because the water is now all nice and clean.
When I was at school in London I learned about endangered animals like orangutangs and jaguars, elephants and rhinoceros and what endangered means is that there are only a few of them left because some people kill them or their habitats. The Manta rays take a long time to make babies and before no one used to eat them but they are endangered now because they have been killed a lot in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia because chinese people take their gill plates on their tummy for chinese medicine for vitamins and chicken pox medicine for children and breastfeeding vitamins for mums. It’s really bad for the Manta rays but also for the humans because it is actually really toxic.
It was really a beautiful experience to see the Mantas and swim with them and they were so big and I just could not believe my eyes when i saw them next to me. I wish the best for the Manta rays to be happy. Lots of people come to swim with them and perhaps it would be better if there were alone a they are born to be without humans visiting and it would be better if there is a sail boat or a canoe coming through and no speed boat using petrol and electricity and I wish that in China they stop killing them and leave them alone.