In February and March 2006 I decided to take a trip that would help me mix macro and manta rays, so I decided to return to the Lembeh Straits where I stayed at the Lembeh Resort once again, and then made my way to Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia to the Manta Ray Bay Hotel where I had the pleasure of meeting fellow wetpixel member Mike Veich as well as Jan and Melo (also a wetpixel member) who run the dive centre Yap Divers.
Now, any dive trip is better than being in the office, but I was really stuffed by the weather, especially in Yap, where rain, the strong winds and the strong surge kept the visibility to a max of 5-10 meters usually and ensured that Mill Channel was always full of sand and backscatter material. Bottom line: no mantas or at least no good opportunity for shooting them (as in taking photos). And this was supposed to bethe dry season as well as manta mating time 🙁 🙁 🙁 As you can imagine I was not too thrilled.
Anyway, I concentrated on my macro and even though I went out to the channel probably 10 or 11 times, i did not come back with one decent manta shot. However I did see a number of macro critters in Yap that made up a bit of the disappointment.
Diving with the Lembeh Resort once again was a pleasure and all the crew there were as helpful and cheerful as usual. You don’t touch your gear from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, and all the crews are used to handling photo equipment and will quickly learn whatever quirks and paranoias you may have.
In Yap I found the setup less than ideal for a solo experienced diver who wants to take photos, and i think I would have felt the same way even if the conditions were better. Most of the divers who come to Yap are on the tail end of a trip to Palau, or are about to go to Palau and typically don’t stay very long in Yap. That results in yours truly solo diver ending up being the filler on the boat and that means less than ideal dive site choice.
Now, to their credit, Jan did try and accomodate me, and he was very flexible and patient with my various mindsets, but still. Also, I feel that I was constantly carrying my gear around from the dive shop to the boat and back, as well as on the dive boats.