Amy Ippoliti (image by Taro Smith)
“Manta train coming! Right below you! GO, NOW!”, my partner shouted.
I took a breath, dove down and joined the caboose of twirling manta rays soaring through the blue waters like aquatic eagles gliding on a thermal.
When I surfaced, I heard again, “Go down, go down, right below you!!”
I took another deep inhale, duck dived, and found myself heading face to face with a 1,500 pound manta ray. There was no time to back away or side-swipe to avoid the collision, so I trusted her to make the move.
In the perfect moment before certain impact she gracefully arched into a powerful back flip, giving me a full show of her white belly and twirled beneath me on her way.
To be able to swim long enough under water with these creatures without scuba gear, snorkel, mask or fins, I spent 8 months training in a pool in Colorado doing laps, free diving and folding into yoga poses underwater.