To earn the title of Master Scuba Diver, there are a series of certifications you must complete. You begin with Open Water Diver, proceed to Advanced Open Water Diver, then finish with Rescue Diver. You are expected to log a certain number of dives, and you must complete five specialty courses to fulfill the requirements to be a Master Scuba Diver.
These specialty courses can be likened to elective courses in school: mandatory, but you are free to choose which five you want to take. You could take a course on boat diving, cavern diving, underwater photography, dry suit diving, night diving, or wreck diving, just to name a few.
If you should find yourself in the lush jungles of Kona, Hawaii, you should definitely take the PADI Manta Ray Diver specialty course.
The PADI Manta Ray Diver distinctive specialty course is based on research conducted by Keller Laros, affectionately known as Manta Man. Laros’ first manta ray dive was in 1985, with Jack’s Diving Locker in Kona, Hawaii.
In 1991, Laros moved to Kona and began working with Jack’s Diving Locker to facilitate night diving tours with the local population of rays. He noticed each ray bore a distinctive marking, which prompted him to begin cataloging the rays and recording his observations of the animals. In 2006, he introduced a new PADI specialty certification called Manta Ray Diver.
The course includes two dives, one at sunset and one at night, with a total course duration of about eight hours. In the class, divers will be educated about the local manta population, including their anatomy, feeding habits, reproduction, and how to differentiate each individual. Divers will also be instructed how to observe and interact with the rays, with respect to physical contact, behavior, and positioning for the best manta experience.
You will need to provide your own wetsuit, BCD, regulator, mask, fins, and snorkel. Rental equipment is made available for a charge per piece. The tour will provide tanks, lights, weights, and your course materials. It is advised that you read the PADI Manta Ray Diver specialty course materials before arriving for the course. Upon completion of an exam and two dives, a certification will be issued.
An important note for this course is that manta ray sightings are not required for this course. You can’t control the forces of nature, and although this is a manta ray hotspot, it may not be in the cards for you to see a manta on your dives.
Hawaii is a popular dive destination because of its incredible biodiversity. Keller Laros has made a large contribution to its propagation through co-founding the Manta Pacific Research Foundation, a non-profit that is focused on the study and conservation of Hawaii’s manta rays and marine ecology, as well as educating the public.
The manta ray became a protected species under Hawaii state law in 2009, and penalties are assessed to anyone who is involved in killing or harming a manta or its habitat. A portion of the fees for the Manta Ray Diver specialty course is donated to the research and preservation of this majestic species. Help contribute to a worthy cause and acquire some new scuba skills with this awesome specialty course!