A Magical Day in Micronesia
My name is Valerie Acker Sullivan and I am a dive guide in training at my family’s dedicated dive resort – the Manta Ray Bay. Today marked my 10th diving expedition as a member of the Yap Divers’ Crew and we were scheduled for an all day 3 tank dive. Our boat driver was John John and our dive guide was R.J. along with myself. The guests were a local diver (Diana), two single New Yorkers (Chad and Liza), an American couple living outside of Tokyo, Japan (Dylan and Teresa), and an Israeli couple (David the diver and Naama his 5 month pregnant snorkeler wife).
Beginning at the dock everyone was having fun getting to know one another. We were greeted with a beautiful sunny day and calm waters so the day was magical from the start. Our first stop was Yap Caverns (my personal favorite). The dive is full of caves and swim-throughs featuring several moray eels and lion fish to keep every diver happy. On top of this we saw 2 leaf fish, 2 mantas shrimps and a white tip reef shark getting his daily grooming from a group of cleaner wrasses at the shark cleaning station. As if that wasn’t a wonderful first dive as it was, I saw a turtle as I was doing my safty stop. (Turtle number one of the day).
Our next stop was Big Bend along the west side of the island. This dive site was no less exciting for the moment we entered the water, we spotted a resting sting ray underneath a coral overhang and shortly afterwards a turtle. (Turtle number 2 of the day). There was a nice current with crystal clear water so we enjoyed a beautiful drift dive full of tropical fish and gorgeous corals.
On our way to the 3rd dive site we spotted mating turtles! (Turtles number 3 and 4 of the day) but the excitement continued as we came across a pod of dolphins! At first we were shocked that they didn’t want to play, so we jumped in with snorkels to see them. Shorty afterwards we realize why they didn’t play as we jumped in right on top of a school of barracudas which the dolphins were fishing for! From the boat we watched as barracudas jumped out of the water in a frenzy trying to escape the dolphins! What an amazing experience.
Finally we arrive at Mi’l Channel. With everyone still hyped about all the excitement of the day, we almost passed up doing our final dive. Boy that would have been a mistake – a big mistake. With perfect conditions – an incoming tide, crystal clear water and a tropical sunset – we jumped in. The channel was so clear you could see both sides and the bottom some 90 feet down. Riding the light current was a good relaxing way to end the day of diving and it would have been a fine ending to a wonderful day but as we arrived at Tzimoulis Ridge (sometimes still referred to as Manta Ridge), a solitary male manta came cruising by on his way out to sea. No sooner had I turned from watching him than I see an entire “herd” of mantas heading directly towards me. In my excitement I lost count of how many mantas actually went by! It was a good thing that they finally passed because we were all almost out of air and haven’t even begun our safty stop!
Once on the boat we confirmed that there were 14 mantas altogether. That dive sealed the day for us and boy was it a day to remember. I would like to tell everyone that it was just another typical day in Yap, but it was pretty special – even for here. I am looking forward to joining my Dad, Bill Acker, on his weekly Thursday Diving Safari to see if we can repeat the spectacle. I invite you to join me anytime and I will be happy to show you the underwater magic that is Yap Island.