Diving & snorkeling with the manta rays for 20 years on the Kona Coast of Hawaii, with Martina Wing


The countdown is running let’s get
everything ready. Very exciting. I’m live on my phone and
this is working. Let’s see who’s joining. Connie’s here. Hi Connie. We are live here already but we are waiting a few more minutes like two more minutes. Do you see the counter the countdown timer? We are
checking out new technology and we’re going to be together with you here in
like two minutes. In the meantime enjoy this beautiful reef. It’s drone
footage from Jim of the Hawaiian Reef. Getting you into the right mood. (Mexico birds chirping in the background) Should we start our
little conversation here? We have a couple more minutes. We might want to give it some more time for the stragglers. Maybe one more minute?
We are anxious and excited. Can’t you tell? Leave a comment if
you are live with us. We cannot see whose live. We can only see if someone is live by
leaving a comment like my sister Connie. Say hi and where you’re from. One more minute.
Stefan is here. I have to go and will watch later. Have fun. Yes
we will, have fun for sure. That’s what we do here. You watch later that’s
right. Thanks Stefan. This is Germany and New Zealand so far. Laurie in Cozumel, yippie. We love to connect with the world don’t we? Frank Netherwood, Yes! Back in from San Francisco. Great.
Okey-dokey. Good technology, we’re going to start this now. We’re going to go live now and you will see us a little bigger. Say goodbye to the reef and here we go. We
are live today in Hawaii. This is Martina Wing and I have my dear friend
Tara Kelly with me today. We came up with some kind of interview style with
Facebook live today. All because we are celebrating my first Manta ray dive, 20 years ago. I actually still have the log books here and how this all came together.
We wanted to celebrate with you today. We put our
makeup on and we put all this stuff on. For everybody who has not watched me before my name is Martina Wing I’m in Hawaii. I live on a Kona Coast and I love the
manta rays. I dive and swim with them almost every night for all these years.
They really touched my life and touched my heart so many years
ago and I love to share my knowledge I have about them. This is for my
introduction today so that you know who I am. I want to tell you real quick about
Tara. Tara is my dear friend of 14 years. She came to Kona 14
years ago and she was a dive master. Actually why don’t we say hello to
Tara. Tara, how you doing and where are you and what’s going on in your life?
First of all happy Anniversary Martina. Happy anniversary with the manta rays.
Thank you. I’m here in Mexico in the state of Oaxaca. It’s the
southern end of Mexico and yes I’m here to interview you today. All about your manta rays. Okay! Also to learn about your experience. The idea came up with Tara. She is
actually my virtual assistant so she can travel the world. She’s on a sailing trip
around the world and Mexico is one of her stops. Tara does a lot of things
in the background. I’m trying to be in the forefront and be the face of this
whole Manta Ray Advocacy thing. There’s so much work to do in the
background so I have Tara and also Haley in the background a lot. Tara is
sailing usually and then in between she does some computer work. If there’s
something you need in the service area you are looking for then definitely connect with Tara. The idea came up that I should be interviewed. Usually I want
to be the interviewer. I interviewed my sister a few months well it was a
few weeks ago. Today we turn it around because we have a really good
reason to celebrate 20 years. It’s really an awesome epic journey that I’ve had for
so many years. Before we jump into the first question, I want to
tell you that we do have a celebration giveaway today. I do want you to stay
tuned until the the end we’re going to give you something to do. If that’s all going to
work out then I think you’re going to really enjoy our giveaway today. Stay
tuned and I’m going to be interviewed now. Tara, you take it away, then I’m
going to answer your questions that you have. All right, great. Well,
as you know we’re here celebrating Martina’s 20th anniversary with the manta
rays and being in Hawaii. Martina, how did it all start for you? I started as a tourist coming to Kona. I was traveling when I was
going to turn 30 and there was this dive here in Kona. I was a brand new
diver and someone said you have to do the manta ray dive and so I did. I came from a place that was not so good. What was
happening in Germany? I’m a German national and it was a sad chapter in my life. I
had to travel and I wanted to get out of it. Then really it was a big turn around
for me when I saw the manta rays. You know the really fun side story to this
is, well it’s actually not a sad story it’s big part of my life. It’s actually the biggest because part
of my life actually. I saw the manta rays the very first time. I’m
going to show you a picture in a second, if I can figure out this technology and how I looked the very first time. I saw the manta rays and there
was this guy on the boat filming me. I bought the video from the guy and
this gentleman’s name is James. James Wing and he’s my husband today.
It’s a fun story on how your life can change, really on a
dime. How things can turn to the better. When I saw the manta rays
for the first time for me it was definitely touching my heart and some healing
started for me from this. Then from there a rellay cool part of my life started. It was the start to my new life here in Hawaii. If I may, I want
to show you a quick picture that I came about. Check this out!
This is me with the manta rays. Can you see that? I hope so. This is a
picture that Jim took off me on February 26 1998. Manta Rays flying over my head. It’s really cool. This is the
a picture I wanted to share with you and then back to our
interview. I want to explain to people that you are in
public place right now, because Wi-Fi is not so easy for you to find in
Mexico. Yes, so sorry about that. This is going to be quite, fun.
Okay well Martina, what made you fall in love with the manta rays and why did
they touch you so much? When you look at these animals you
know they’re big, big fish. They’re definitely intimating at first. There’s
so much grace to them. I needed grace I think in this part of
my life. I needed to know that there was hope that I
was looking for and the mantas shared their innocence. They’re voiceless gentle giants. I wanted to be being emerged
in the ocean and with the whole thing the scenery at nights with manta rays
and the lights. It was really incredible to experience and I
really fell in love with them. I actually want to throw this
back to you, didn’t you do the manta ray night dive with me the first time? 14
years ago? What did you think? Yes, it did. It blew me away and I’m still
in awe every time I do this dive. It was funny because when you had asked me if I ever
done a manta ray dive I said sure I’ve done the Stingray dives. What’s the
difference? I thought I knew it all and then I saw the
manta rays and yes there’s a big difference. Yes, they are such beautiful
creatures and they really will change your life. Yes, so amazing. They changed your life too right? Absolutely. Maybe it will change someone else’s life? All the folks I have with me right now live with me: Frank. You did the dive
before, and yes Connie has done this dive before, the snorkel before.
It is very impactful. I actually wanted to
change my life after I met them. Of course meeting the guy and marrying him really helped on this journey. Since then we’ve been doing it together Jim and I. We are advocates for the animals and it’s is
really what I’m supposed to do, I believe I’m supposed to do this.
Where were you before this and how has it changed since the
beginning when this all started?
Well I started when I was in Germany finishing school. I finished up
with engineering school and then I wanted to travel and then came here.
Everything was brand new. Then the second question, how did this
change? I’m immigrated into a foreign
country that was a big hurdle to overcome over the years. You know the
language and then running a small company and stuff like that. Where I’m at
today? I think I’ve been very fortunate in all these years.
I’ve been in a space where I knew I have to do this work and so there’s content to my heart that I am in the right
space. Then there is life hurdles that come with everything. You know, you just work through them.
I think you do it very, very well. What are you currently
working on? We were trying to do two things right now. We’re going to try to
bring on nonprofit organization Hawaii Ocean Watch more into forefront. I’m
still actually reinventing ourselves from a space that we used to do all
these years, the videography and filming the manta rays. Like Jim filmed me the
very first time. Then I did this too for almost 19 and a half years. We
reinvented ourselves in the sense that we’re doing more guiding today,
snorkel guiding. I really want to get into the space to
educate more, just like this Facebook live. These are
the projects, along with new webdesign is coming up. I want to
reach more and more people because it’s knowledge that’s in me that I want to
share and get this out to people. All the imagery that I’ve
filmed. I’m a record keeper and I have all these videos archived so I can
tell story after story and I love to do that. How many dives would
you say you have with the manta rays? I think about 4.000 manta ray dives.
Wow! That’s about number that I’m pretty sure about.
I have more day dives where I come up to six to seven thousand dives
total. Just particularly night diving with the manta rays. That’s quite a
few hours under my belt and now I’m not diving anymore but I’m snorkeling with
them. Hour wise I’m reaching the five thousand mark sometime soon.
Being exposed to this beautiful animal and I wish for everybody to
experience them. I don’t know a woman on the Kona Coast that has
as many dives with the manta rays other than you. Yes, that’s a feather
in your cap. What would you say would be your most
memorable experience with the manta rays? There are two situations that I
really enjoy, making the people happy that’s one thing,
but with the animal itself there were two things that really stand out. I was
able to create this pregnancy diary of Big Bertha’s pregnancy in 2010-11. We
actually saw her from being chased by the boys and all the courtship
behavior. One manta ray is in the front and then it was actually one dive where
there was 18 male manta rays following one female.
Flying manta rays all around. I should show that footage sometime in the near
future here on Facebook too. Then we had this pregnancy and we
see Big Bertha so many times and that I was able to compile a video where you
can see how she’s being chased by the boys and then how her pregnancy is going
along. It’s a 13 month pregnancy gestation period. For me, I’m so connected to this animal. Although I mean she’s this fish
in the ocean but it’s beautiful to share this and to create this
experience. Then the other big thing at the manta ray dive that did
happen five years ago, I was just doing my thing. Maybe you’ve heard
about me talking about this before? It’s the dolphin rescue where the
dolphin, a bottlenose dolphin had came to the manta ray dive and it was rescued from
fishing line. It had line around his pectoral fin and his mouth. This video
went viral. For an underwater photographer it doesn’t doesn’t get much
better to have a situation in front of you that you film and then
people enjoy it all over the world. If I may say it’s
over 33 million hits on YouTube at this point.
Wow, that’s amazing! Many people have enjoyed the story. It’s so very
powerful and the compassion in it love of an animal.
That’s what I’m standing for love, compassion and kindness to each other. This is
what I want to spread as a message. Yes, and I’m assuming that’s what you
want the guests to also feel when they see the manta rays and experience them
as well? Is that right? Yes, I want people to know the world is a difficult place to navigate and there are so many things and
obstacles but if we bring more as an individual, more
kindness more compassion to the world. To your neighbors, to your co-workers, to the
animals around you then you make the world a better place already.
Everybody should have that definitely on their mind to
bring that to the world. I agree. I agree.
This one’s a kind of a funny question but what would be your most memorable
question that a guest asks you? Something that you’ve received quite often?
Something funny. Thats a really good question
and I might be a little bit well I think I’m a little mean on this end but
the question is actually how long do manta rays stay under the water?
The mean part is
people don’t know that the manta ray is a fish. You know how long a fish can
stay underwater? It’s not a dolphin who needs to take a breath and you know fish
stay underwater forever. Manta rays are forever underwater and will never need to
come to the surface. I think this is one of the questions I always crack up
about. It’s a good question because first if you don’t know
much about the animal because it’s still a mysterious creature. It comes up and
when people ask me this I usually crack up first and laugh. Then I explain
the situation that it is a fish. That’s great! What is your greatest
achievements that you’re most proud of? Two things that I
can think of, one internally. I’m very happy and proud of that I feel
so much content in my heart. Because we have only so many hours on the
planet and you know everybody seems to be searching on what do and asking and what should I do? What’s my contribution? Maybe
people’s even search for their contribution because they
don’t know how to get there. I found this so long ago. Actually 20
years ago, I found what my contribution will be to this
world, this planet. It makes you so content if you know
that in your heart and you know that it’s a good place to be.
I think that is an achievement for your only personal growth. I
continue to grow but I’ve been in that space for so long and I
really enjoy that. Then well Frank you mentioned this it’s the book.
Thank you Frank! I have a copy of it right
here. My other big achievement of course is this the dolphin rescue video that
has touched the world so much and I wanted to continue touching the world. I
wanted to create the book. A children’s book that came out on the 28th of December. Frank
was one of the supporters of my Kickstarter campaign. This book is the story of Notch now told as a children’s book.
It came out incredibly beautiful. On the inside we have the manta rays and
stuff like that. There’s Notch. Then we eventually come to the place where Notch is getting rescued by the divers.
All of this is based on the video where I was in the right place to
film. Right place, right time for sure for me. When you
think of accomplishments, this is an accomplishment I’m proud of but I
want to take this further and further. I don’t want to stop
bringing this story of kindness and compassion for each other and the
animals. As far as I can go. Absolutely. More and more should know about this. We will
spread the word. Hopefully everyone spreads the word also, because I think
that this is a great book and one of your best achievements as well. The last
question before we wrap it up. How can more people get involved with the manta
rays? Definitely like our Facebook live today.
You can also get notifications how to see it so you are
definitely connected with me on Facebook and then you can also find us on
Instagram. We have great content there. Lots of content.
That’s an easy way to stay connected. If you want to sign up for our
newsletter we have that, too. I show up every two weeks and your
inbox and to tell you about the animals to keep the conversation
going. Then maybe I can get you to Hawaii one day. I can inspire you.
If it’s not even in Hawaii I inspire you to be a Manta Ray Advocate.
Be an Ocean Advocate. The ocean needs it so much. It needs all the support and
awareness for all these humans on the planet. The ocean needs us and all the animals need us. These are the ways to connect
with us a Facebook, Instagram and then maybe our newsletter. I will change the description and add a few things to it
so you can connect with us there. That’s great. That’s great. Martina this
has been a lot of fun and congratulations to you and I’m so
happy for your 20th anniversary in Hawaii with the manta rays. Thanks
Martina. Thank you. We love that you’re passionate about it and it shows.
Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you. Thank you.
Thanks to Tara for doing this. This was a great idea to get this all
going. We had to get this technology going up and running but I think this is
a really good way and maybe I can use this technology for other interviews and
in near future. For everybody I talked about a
giveaway and I want to show you the giveaway that I have and how you can
get this giveaway. It’s our marine life coloring book.
See it right here? This is our coloring book and it’s for the children. Obviously Notch, there is a monk seal and the sharks.
There’s all kinds of things in here and this is a free downloadable little
goodie that you can receive. The way you’re going to get this, I want
you to do is go into the comments section and tag a friend you
have that has children or has a child who will
enjoy the coloring book. I’m going to make sure they get the coloring
book. Maybe exchange email addresses or I can Facebook
message them directly. I want to make sure that they get this in their inbox or Facebook.
This is our giveaway today. What I want you to do is leave a comment for
anybody you know that has children and who would enjoy this free coloring book because we want to celebrate 20 years. Thank you for everybody that was
out here today with me. Let me see some comments. Connie is New Zealand,
Frank again. Laurie in Cozumel. Stefan in Germany. I’m sure my mom’s going to
watch this too. If it’s just the replays. I’m glad you were here with me.
Thanks for this. It’s so distracting what she’s doing on the other side. ha ha
I’m going to say thank you for being here with me today. Leave a comment, tag a
friend and then we will get this coloring book to them. Thank you so much for being here with me and Tara. I’ll talk to you later. Bye, bye.

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