Photo & video gallery

by Mandy Etpison - I used to photograph mantas while scuba diving, and most mantas do not seem to mind a photographer's strobes, as long as they are toned down, which you need to do anyway since their white bellies almost bounce the light back. With the increased diver traffic at German Channel though, we started noticing the last two years that when large groups of divers sit around the cleaning stations with dozens of strobes going off constantly, it definitely scares off the mantas. Nowadays, you often see mantas approaching a cleaning station, but if they see strobes going off, they turn around and swim away without getting cleaned and with dozens of photographers chasing after them.

So I started snorkeling and taking photos using available light only, which works much better when the mantas are feeding close to the surface. Mantas come much closer to snorkelers than divers as long as you stay flat on the surface, but again, large groups of snorkelers duck-diving down will also disturb the mantas, it's all in the numbers and the way people behave around the animals…

Watching from above, I also started noticing how the mantas are often blocked from feeding by bubble curtains created by groups of divers watching them from below, and their normal feeding route becomes an obstacle course. Of course the increased number of divers today makes it much more difficult to get good photographs without getting bubbles or divers in it, so the key is to get away from the crowds and let the animals come to you without chasing them.

Mantas - MANTA - PALAU
Cleaning station - MANTA - PALAU


For those of you interested, I used a Canon 5D MarkII camera for most of the shots on this website, with a Seacam housing and strobe. Manta lenses I use are my EF15mm fisheye and 17-40mm. The majority of the photos on this website except for those at the cleaning stations, were taken with available light.

Photo Gallery


Video Gallery

Palau Black Manta

Palau Manta Rays Feeding


Large Aggregation of Manta Rays

School of Mantas Barrel Rolling