The manta ray dive off Kona is an incredible experience, and one that we’ve covered recently here on CaliforniaDiver.com. It’s exhilarating to dive with a dozen or more giant mantas and watch them feed off the plankton attracted to the diver’s lights in about 30 feet of water.
Kona night divers got a special treat last weekend when a critically endangered monk seal joined the manta dive, interacting with the divers and mantas for two nights. The curious seal swam around to the surprise and delight of the dozens of divers who had planned on seeing only the mantas.
Hawaiian monk seals are critically endangered,with only 1,100 left in existence. They’re the most endangered mammal in the United States, and one of the rarest mammals in the world. Most live in the remote unpopulated islands northwest of the main islands, and just three are known to frequent Big Island waters, including this one. According to NOAA, Hawaiian monk seals can weigh nearly 500 pounds and measure about 7 feet. They were hunted to the brink of extinction in the late 19th century.
The “never-before-seen” footage was captured by Manta Ray Advocates Hawaii photographers Martina Wing, Ryan Leinbach, and Adam Fram.
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