There is something about watching a manta ray swoop and dive in the water that can make you forget where you are. Showing more grace than any bird in the sky they manage to glide gracefully through the water, capturing the imaginations of the divers who look on in awe. There are a number of sites around the world where you can see mantas; in fact they can often be seen feeding close to the surface of the water in several of the dive sites to be found around Thailand, sites like Komodo and Koh Bon, as well as in the Maldives, Fiji and the Galapagos Islands, generally where there are corals or rocky reef structures.
About Manta Rays
An adult Manta can grow to almost seven metres across and weigh up to a staggering 1,400 kg making them the largest off all of the different Ray species. An adult Manta Ray is capable of incredible bursts of speed and you can often see juvenile rays leaping clean out of the water which is believed to be a form of social interaction and play; it is an activity than can also serve to remove parasites. Mantas are inquisitive creatures and will very often approach a diver and enjoy the human contact that they receive, especially the bubbles from air tanks.
You are more likely to encourage a manta to approach if you enter the water slowly and make the least amount of disturbance possible; hovering in the water close to a cleaning station is probably the best position in which to locate yourself to allow a manta to approach you. You might also want to look under rocks in the water as mantas do like to hide during the day time. Make sure that you never disturb them if they are engaged in activities like cleaning, mating or feeding, and though it may look as though they are offering you a ride, don’t.
Manta Rays Where to dive with them?
Mantas are generally found in warmer waters, for example the waters around South Africa, Mozambique to Somalia, and Madagascar. They can also be found in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Bay of Bengal, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, through to the Philippines and Cambodia to the waters of Southern Japan and Northern Australia.
There are some famous dive sites in the world which a lot of divers have on their bucket list. The Islands of Yap in Micronesia and Kona Hawaii are famous for diving with manta rays. You can also find Mantas at dive sites in, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands as well and from Southern California through to Northern Peru.
Basically every tropical ocean is home to the Manta Ray, though as with many other marine creatures their future is at risk. Fishing of these creatures has been increased in eastern Indonesia where they are used as a source of meat; Chinese medicine has uses for the Manta’s gill plates, and the skin for handbags and wallets. It is important that the species not be driven to the brink of extinction by over fishing like so many species before it and they be regarded as protected species sooner rather than later.
picture by: DiveLive Sa