Our experience with Manta Rays
Known worldwide as the “Manta Man” and “Manta Woman”, marine photographers James L. Wing and his wife Martina have over two decades of Scuba Diving Experience with Manta Rays along the Kona Coast. Their work has been prominently featured on National Geographic, BBC, Discovery Channel, Good Morning America, and in the New York Times, as well as numerous other dive and travel publications (check out the client/credit section). Their marine subjects include whales, dolphins and reef fish, but the Manta Rays are their specialty.
James Wing was the first professional photographer at “Manta Village” in 1991, when a local boat operator started to regularly schedule dives with the Manta Rays at the Keauhou dive site on Monday nights.
In August of 1999, James established the dive site “Manta Heaven”, which has had a record night with 46 Manta Rays! Together James and Martina have seen all the changes over the years. Thousands of happy customers have gone home with one of their videos and the imagery has helped to publicize and transform the Manta Ray Experience into what it is today.
Martina Wing’s journey took her from former customer to underwater videographer to advocacy leader in Kona, Hawaii. She went on her first dive with the Manta Rays in February of 1998. Visiting Hawaii from Germany, she had no idea what she was about to experience but was willing to embark on this adventure of “diving at night with big, graceful, harmless fish”. It turned out to be a life-changing event; Martina watched the video James took of the Manta Rays "dancing" over her head. Although she was overwhelmed by the majestic beauty, she still managed to order the videotape. She fell in love with the Manta Rays and the cameraman, and is happily married to James today!
In 2004, E. Ryan Leinbach participated in Ocean Wings Hawaii’s Internship program for college credit. Ryan was hired immediately after graduating and developed into a highly-skilled underwater camera operator. She is also one of the leading researchers on manta identification and has worked closely with the Wings to publish statistics and research on the Manta Rays’ individual behaviors. Besides supporting James and Martina on the night dives, Ryan has rendered photo- and video services to dolphin charter boats since 2008, which gives her a unique knowledge of the resident population of Hawaiian spinner dolphins. If you want incredible images of your dolphin adventure, look no further than E. Ryan Leinbach.
Seasoned Underwater Photographers
Over the years, James and Martina have developed a broad network of contacts with many boat owners who conduct the Manta Ray snorkel and dive excursions. Altogether Jim, Martina and Ryan have over 10,000 hours of filming and observing these beautiful animals. They act solely as camera people, which give them the freedom to film you with the Manta Rays without compromising on the safety of the participants.
Passionate Manta Ray Advocates
James, Martina and Ryan's passion for the Manta Rays runs deep. Experiencing the gentle giants in their natural habitat had a lasting effect on all three. Although it started as a small production company (back in 1991), seeing the changes within the industry and the growing pains as well as other problems the Manta Rays are facing today, all three knew that their imagery and vast knowledge could help make a change for the better. The movement "Manta Ray Advocates" was born. They want to make a difference by continuing the diligent pursuit of balancing advocacy and education with promotion, to insure the safety of the Manta Rays while maintaining a high quality experience for activity participants. You find more information about their advocacy work here.