Dive Site: Gonubalabala Manta Station in Milne Bay PNG

Mantas swim very close at Milne Bay, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

Site Overview

Site Type: Manta Rays and Muck diving
Depth: Median: 9MBottom: 15M
Location: NW side of Gonubalabala Island near Samarai in Milne Bay Province

Description

Here in shallow water, large coral boulders and coral bommies, with a healthy cover of soft corals, are scattered over a sandy bottom. The exact perfect conditions for a Manta Ray cleaning station, and indeed for observing mantas at a cleaning station. Mantas have their own timetable and so cannot be guaranteed – but there is plenty of other stuff to see in the sand while you are waiting.

Map showing location of Gonubalabala Mantas at Papua New Guinea, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

The giant mantas come in to be cleaned by the wrasse on the large bommies.

Photographer and manta at Milne Bay, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

There are at least a dozen individuals in the 3-4m range and you can get so close you can fill a fish eye lens.

Mantas swim very close at Milne Bay, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

The visibility here is modest as the water is full of the plankton that the mantas are after.

A pair of mantas swim round the cleaning station at Milne Bay, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

Nearby is a muck bottom of sponges, soft corals and hydroids famous for nudibranchs, blue-ring octopus and many other “Muck” critters.

A Thumbprint Razorfish in the sand near the cleaning station.

A Thumbprint Razorfish in sand near the cleaning station at Milne Bay, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

Blue-ring Octopus found on a muck dive near the mantas cleaning station.

Blue-ring Octopus found in muck dive near mantas at Milne Bay, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

It is also an excellent site for nudibranchs.

A good site for unusual nudibranchs at Milne Bay, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

This pleurobranch has sand rings stuck to it.

This pleurobranch has sand rings stuck to it at Milne Bay, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

A Thornback Cowfish hides in the soft corals.

A Thornback Cowfish hides in the soft corals at Milne Bay, aboard the MV Golden Dawn. Scuba dive holiday, travel planning tips for PNG - where, when, who and how

Thanks to Bob Halstead for the photos and description.