Manta Fest – Shark Diving

IMG_0107 The weather gods are smiling on Manta Fest, today’s conditions were outstanding.

The contestants have all logged about 6 to 10 dives, depending on who’s up for third and fourth tanks in the afternoon.

Today we shot wide angle in the morning and guests were heading out with diopters on their macro ports for an afternoon session.

Bottom times are long this week. This morning David Fleetham showed us how to get it done at Vertigo and pulled almost 110 minutes out of his first tank, and over a hundred on his second… shooting over a thousand frames before lunch.

The Macro boat that drives five minutes into the lagoon came back two hours after it departed on today’s third tank dive.

We’re getting into it big and small and it’s about time for some contest media leaks – I’m already putting my hand out to see how the contest is shaping up – my USB drive is hanging in the dive shop waiting for some uploads.

The first guests to load up their preview will get a gallery on the blog and you can like it up on Facebook to start some unofficial judging.


IMG_7447These days the boats are carrying more value in camera systems than the boat’s worth.

This morning was more like “Shark Fest” with back to back Manta Ray Bay shark dives.

Manta Fest Pro Insight

Today I got on David ‘s boat and at the dock I asked him for some suggestions on lighting.

Starting out with DSLR photography means learning stops and speeds, then proper lighting. The nightly presentations demonstrate excellent photography fundamentals and that experience is available to you here at Manta Fest.


IMG_7812After attending David and Marty’s class on using natural light and watching the evening presentations, I exercised some Manta Fest privileges and tapped into decades of photography knowledge while waiting to board the dive boat – I asked for some help.

I was given custom advice for my gear setup, and the dive site.

He started out with a couple of questions and then talked about the shooting environment.



At Vertigo, there’s so much action that you move your target a lot and pure manual settings can be a lot to manage.

He suggested I try letting my camera do some of the work and gave me a starting point.

“What are you shooting? What lens do you have?” – Cannon / Tokina 10-17.

David told me that my lens performs it’s best at F11 (and why), to utilize Aperture Priority mode to hold the f-stop, use my ISO setting to raise the shutter speed into the 100’ths of a second then shoot in TTL strobe mode. That was my starting point and during our surface interval he followed up with to make sure I got something out of it.

This is a huge part of Manta Fest, aside from all the poolside beers and good times – getting better at shooting sea life, the goal is to walk away a better shooter and possibly with a deluxe prize or two.


Vertigo hosted us in typical form today. We had about 40 Grey and Black Tip reef sharks circling under the boat and swimming well into our personal space.

Earlier Tim Rock was talking about Vertigo and said it is one of the only places in the world you get this close to this many Black Tip reef sharks – stating that Black Tips are typically shy in nature and more skittish, but here you get almost too close.

IMG_7848That’s what you can expect here, when you’re on a Manta Ray Bay shark dive, you are surrounded by reef sharks that buzz you in their swim pattern

We had good sun and triple digit visibility out there which means deep blue backgrounds in our pictures.

I wasn’t the only one on the reef trying out last night’s natural lighting tips – shooting silhouettes with cleaner lines and freezing the sunlight. So far the instruction and workshops are showing results.

Next up: Histograms and developing RAWs.

More Media and Pro Info

The evening presentation was given by Frank Schneider on shooting models, in and out of the water.

Ray Bullion is up next with some non- DLSR photo information to help point-and-shoot photographers get the most out of their equipment.

Tomorrow Bill and his wife Patricia are hosting a three-tank day on Popou and going to show the guests the southern walls of Yap. There will be both wide angle and macro opportunities throughout the day tour.

Stay tuned for some contestant photography, so far asking around, I got the old, “None of mine are ready yet…” answer, but I’ll stay on it until we get actual Manta Fest media going here.



Availability & Reservations

Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly
11:27 21 Mar 18
We stayed at the hotel and dove with Manta Ray divers in early December 2017. The hotel is very comfortable, well run and staffed with wonderful employees. During our visit my wife came down with an illness and the consideration and support from the hotel and dive staff could not have been more
Sandy Stinson
Sandy Stinson
16:03 03 Mar 18
The staff couldn't be more friendly and accommodating. Food is good, (worth upgrading to include all meals). Diving is good more
Alex Divinsky
Alex Divinsky
17:24 01 Jan 18
The best place to stay in Yap. The resort is really nice and clean, the scuba diving is great, and the docked ship that houses the bar, restaurant, and movie screen is very cool. I really enjoyed my stay more
10:44 01 Jan 18
Offers one of the best accommodation service. It also has a uniquely designed restaurant.
Yi-Hsin Lin
Yi-Hsin Lin
00:53 21 Feb 17
The whole place centers around the scuba diving operation. Probably better to find somewhere else if you're not a diver. The dive operation was generally good, but a little too laid back - schedules weren't always clear, and sometimes would change without any notice. Sometimes it was hard to tell if this was really because of changing tides/weather or because of the island pace of life. Pizza is a surprisingly good option at the more
William Myers
William Myers
21:01 21 Jul 18
Great hotel. Have stayed twice.
Emily Caquelin
Emily Caquelin
04:10 02 Aug 18
Manta Ray Bay Resort is a great dive resort with extremely hospitable staff.
Daniel Granzer
Daniel Granzer
11:40 23 Aug 18
We were from 11.08 to 18.08 at the Manta Ray Bay resort and had unforgettable days there 😍In total we made 12 dives with wonderful encounters. Highlights were, of course, the manta rays in the Goofnuw Channel and many white tip reef sharks in the Shark City 🦈 But also we saw eagle rays, turtles 🐢 and buffalo head parrotfish. The hotel is beautiful and the whole team does a great job there. The food on the ship Mnuw, as well as the home-brewed beer are excellent. Thank you again to the whole team of Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers 👏🏼We also did a one-day land tour to explore the many beautiful places of this unique island. The beach is like in paradise🏝, stone money and relics from the second world war very worth to see! You find there also culturally typical houses with different meaning and use! It would be nice if more visitors would come to this great island and appreciate the great work that is done there! Anyway, we really enjoyed it and would come back anytime 🙏🏻✌🏼read more
Jonathan Gapith
Jonathan Gapith
10:31 19 Sep 18
Best dive resort around, amazingly friendly staff and great food on the mnuw
Rene Sten
Rene Sten
04:06 12 Oct 18
Bill and his family run a great dive resort, rooms are spacious and comfortable. Restaurant and bar provide good range of food and drink. Bill and his dive guides know the reef intimately and the diving is spectacular. Bill and his family make for a very friendly and rewarding experience in more
Ms. Malinda
Ms. Malinda
13:52 14 Oct 18
Great place to stay while visiting the island. Lots of activities to do with places to see & people to more
Jan Toman
Jan Toman
22:14 02 Nov 18
Great! GREAT! GREAT! Lovely place, lovely staff, great location for divers!
Deb Roy-Stothart
Deb Roy-Stothart
13:55 06 Dec 18
The highest level of dive service ever experienced! Fabulous dive operation from crew, boats, snacks, hot tea and water, warm towels etc. etc. and of course the Manta Rays!! Thank you for making my 100th dive so memorable. Accommodations 5 star! Food was fabulous! Can't say enough about this beautiful Island and it's people. Loved Yap! Deb & Glenn, London, Ontarioread more
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