Probably one of the most majestic fish of the world. True legend of scuba diving, the Manta Ray is clearly one of the main fishes that divers would like to encounter during their dives. You won’t be able to swim with these pelagics everywhere so do not hesitate to check our best destinations for diving with manta rays.
On which diving sites can I swim with manta rays ?
To see manta rays, you will obviously have to go to one of the manta scuba diving destinations. However, these large pelagics have their favorite place and often gather in scuba diving sites with a cleaning station, particular streams or a high concentration of plankton. Do not hesitate to consult our list of 15 000 dive sites and to select our manta ray filter to discover all the manta ray diving sites in the world.
What is a manta ray?
The manta is actually a type of giant ray, that can be divided into different subspecies of fish. The manta is known primarily for their triangular pectoral fins and for the two extensions, close to their mouths which looks like mandibles but which are in fact large cephalic fins. In addition, they have five pairs of hearing on the ventral side and their eyes are on the side of their head. Moreover, surprisingly, the span, that is to say the width of the body of a ray, always represents 2 to 2.4 times the length of its body. Finally, a manta ray usually live around 50 years.
The different species of manta rays
Manta rays have a so-called pelagic lifestyle. I means that they migrate and travel periodically over very great distances. There are two large sub-families of manta rays:
- – The most common, the reef manta ray, is only 3 meters long, but the largest specimens observed are up to 6,5 meters wide. Like its big sister, it is mainly found in subtropical and tropical waters of the globe such as the Pacific Ocean and the Indo-Pacific Ocean. It has also been seen in certain parts of the Atlantic Ocean such as the Canary Islands and Tenerife.
- – The oceanic manta rays, commonly known as the manta ray, the devil of the seas or the giant manta ray, is the largest ray in the world and usually reach four to seven meters in span for more than two tons. The largest specimen observed in the world was nearly 9.2 meters wide.
Reproduction of manta rays
The manta ray is an ovoviparous species. Concretely, this means that it carries its eggs inside its uterus. The young grow and hatch in the mother’s womb. At birth, the baby oceanic manta is already about 1.5 meters long and will be about 3 meters at one year old only. To give you an idea, females manta rays give birth almost once every 5 years.
Feeding habit of the manta ray
Like the whales, the manta rays filter the water to catch and feed on zooplankton. These microorganisms often descend into the depths during the day and come back up at night. Moreover, they mainly move according to the currents. This is the reason why encounters with manta rays occur mainly in areas with strong current. Furthermore, it is usually easier to dive with manta ray at night as they are more active and feed on the plankton that came back to the shallow water.
The cleaning stations
If you have already dived in one of the main manta ray diving destination, you have certainly heard about the cleaning stations. Manta rays love those places where many shrimp gather to feed on the dead skins and microorganisms that live on our great pelagic friend. Because of this, washing stations are often the best dive sites to see manta rays at daytime.
The slow disappearance of the reef manta rays
In terms of natural predation, the manta ray, thanks to its speed, nearly 25 kilometers per hour, easily escapes most predators. Indeed, only a few species, such as the tiger shark, the hammerhead shark, the bulldog shark or the killer whale manage to get it. The main predator of the reef manta rays is mankind. Indeed, for more than twenty years, their population has decreased, mainly because of fishing. The animal is hunted for not scientifically proven therapeutic virtues, which is granted to its flesh by traditional Chinese medicine. In addition, reef manta have a low fertility rate, a long gestation period and reach sexual maturity at an advanced age. This long process does not help their proliferation and reproduction.
The decline of the oceanic manta ray population
As for its smaller sister, the manta ray manages to escape from most natural predators. The population decreases for the same reasons. Well-established marketing, imagined by industrialists, has increased demand and overfishing is gradually reducing the number of individuals.
Diving and swimming with manta rays
To dive with manta rays, do not hesitate to contact us directly and we will find together, according to your wishes, the best destination and the best diving center or resort, to discover this exceptional underwater animal. Our services are completely free and we often offer discounts and attractive prices. Do not hesitate to book your next diving trip with spotmydive.