While drinking a cold coke on the porch in Zavora we saw whales jump and slap their fins on the water's surface in the bay. Wildlife does not get any bigger than whales, although a few elephants might outweigh some whale species. Other than that, there were also big manta rays around on the local cleaning stations..
On our second day in Zavora we did some dives with Yara from Mozdivers, who showed us around the offshore reefs first. Lots of fish to be seen there. We saw a reef shark as well and were constantly entertained by the singing of the humpback whales. During our safety stop we were buzzed by a vocalizing whale as well. In fact the sound was so loud that we could feel the vibration in our bodies. After we surfaced we asked the skipper how close the whales had come. He bluntly replied that they had passed us at maybe less than 50 meters. Such a shame the visibility was not as good as back in the Azores (a ridiculous 40m) because then we probably would have seen them underwater too!
In between the dives we went looking for some whales and boy, did we see them! Lots of blows on the horizon and now and then a big splash would reveil the presence of these enormous mammals. Just before we entered for our second dive we noticed a humpback close by. The humped back of the whale was clearly visible and suddenly there were two, when a little baby humpback surfaced behind its mother.
We were quite close to the pair so the mother protected her baby by swimming in between the boat and her calf. Curious as it was the baby lifted its head out of the water to take a look at the boat. Quite cool to see this spyhopping behavior. It could well be the first encounter with humans for this baby because many humpbacks are born in this region at this time of year. For us this was a novelty too as it was our first encounter with a baby humpback as well.
As the mother and calf moved off out to sea we started preparing for our second dive of the day. This time we would check out a divesite called Witch's Hat. This divesite, like more inshore divesites, is home to many cleaning stations for manta rays in about 12-15m of water. The shallow depth gave us plenty of bottom time and lot's of light. All was perfect except for one thing: the visibility. Due to the wind the inshore divesites were quite stirred up and visibility was barely 4 meters.
We saw about 4-5 reef manta's (Manta Alfredi), not the pelagic ones, on the cleaning stations as well as a turtle which happily fed on the vegetation on the rocky reef. We helped Yara to get some identification photos for the Manta Ray research. Although my strobes were not working properly, here they were useless anyway. There were so many particels in the water column, that using the strobes would have created so much backscatter that it would have been disastrous for the quality of the photos.
In the end however, the visibility actually made the dive more fun as well. Only at the last moment we were able to make out the manta's before they moved over head. This made it even more exciting than diving in regular clear visibility.