Motoring far off the coast of northwestern Australia you come to Rowley Shoals, a watery paradise teeming with healthy coral and marine life. With your scuba gear on, you step off the boat into the ocean to explore the beauty. The first to greet you is a sea turtle swimming among a school of brightly colored fish. You gaze after her as she paddles effortlessly through the clear water. Diving down to the coral reefs, lightrays from above dance across the shallow depths of the ocean floor. Just then a gentle manta ray glides right past you. In fact, he's so close that it startles him more than you, and he quickly disappears out of sight. Only afterwards do you fully appreciate what a beautiful moment that encounter was.
Special thanks to Mark Stothard for contributing these photos.