Manta rays are often seen in “cleaning stations” near the reef to let cleaner wrasse remove small parasites and gill cavities. These animals are not bothered by human presence; they may approach and solicit attention from divers enjoying the bubbles created during scuba diving. It is better to position yourself along the bottom to observe them close up. However, in areas frequented by divers, they become very vigilant and cease to approach.
Although flash from photography or video doesn’t seem to bother them, you shouldn’t disturb them while feeding or cleaning. Even if they are not bothered by your presence, the best experience is to let them decide if they want to approach you or not. Remember that direct eye contact is a form of friendly connection which they seem to enjoy.
The word “manta” comes from the word in Spanish which means “cloak”. In the Maldivian language, the word “manta” is known as “small fish eating rays”. These terms are very descriptive for the manta rays.
Manta rays are the largest of all rays. They have a distinctive body shape with triangular ‘wings’. The disc width can reach at least 7m and can weigh up to 1,400 kg. They can live up to at least 50 years and possibly to 100 years. They mostly eat plankton (20-30 kilograms per day).
There are two living species, the oceanic manta also called giant manta ray (Birostris) and the reef manta (Alfredi) and are both located worldwide.
Both species live in the open ocean, visiting reefs to feed and be cleaned. However, the oceanic mantas are more widely distributed: tropical, sub-tropical and temperate waters. Manta birostris is more often seen off shore whereas the reef mantas are more sighted inshore around coral reefs in tropical waters. The Maldives are a hotspot for plankton and consequently for reef mantas (6000-7000 reef mantas throughout the year).
Manta rays have few natural predators such as certain species of sharks, orcas and false killer sharks. Manta rays main worries are unfortunately human activities. Mainly fishing lines and fishing entanglement are causes of death. Recently manta rays became a desirable catch and are hunted for their gill rakers for Chinese medicine. These allow the mantas to filter their planktonic prey from the water.
In 2011, manta rays became strictly protected in international waters thanks to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported giant Manta Rays as “Vulnerable with an elevated risk of extinction” in November 2011.
More detailed information about Manta Rays can be found here.
Manta Rays elegantly swim through the warm clear waters surrounding the many tranquil atolls and islands. With waters packed full of life and plenty of large pelagic species the Maldives is one of the most exciting places in the underwater world to...Go>
Home to the famous Hanifaru Lagoon where huge numbers Manta Rays and Whale Sharks congregate to mass feed! Baa and Raa Atolls are also known as North Maalhosmadulu and South Maalhosmadulu are based in the north west of the Maldives. Diving the Maldives...Go>
Dives to wrecks, reefs and what is thought to be the remains of the Fountain of Youth and the Lost city of Atlantis, Bimini is an excellent, easily reached diving destination. The Bahamas means “Shallow Seas” and consists of a group of 700...Go>
Famous around the world for its surfing, scuba diving and laid back beach atmosphere, Byron Bay is a top tourist destination in Australia’s New South Wales. Climate The water temperature is at its coolest of 18C during August and September and is warmest...Go>
Hundreds of Hammerhead Sharks, amazing marine life and blue open ocean, Cocos Island is a once in a lifetime diving destination that any shark lovers must dive. Cocos Island is an island approx 550km off the coast of Costa Rica of tectonic...Go>
Whale Sharks! The Ningaloo Reef off the coast of Exmouth, in Western Australia, is one of the few places left in the World where you can dive and swim with these majestic giants. Exmouth is a small town on the Coral...Go>
Abundant Manta Rays and Whale Sharks and excellent channel dives, Faafu and Dhaalu Atolls are quickly becoming a top diving hotspot. Faafu and Dhaalu Atolls are also known as North and South Nilandhe. Diving the Maldives can be undertaken in two ways, either...Go>
The second largest atoll in the Maldives contains caves, steep drop offs and pristine reefs all waiting to be explored. Gaafu Atoll is also known as Huvadhoo Atoll and is one of the Southern Atolls in the Maldives. Diving the Maldives can be...Go>
A trip of a lifetime! The Galapagos is one of the last places in the world where you have the chance of diving with huge schools of Hammerhead Sharks. The Galapagos Islands consist of 13 main islands and 6 smaller isles approx...Go>
Tropical Island Paradise’s off the beaten track; these overlooked islands offer excellent diving and Sea Turtles galore! With white sand beaches, clear blue water, the peaceful Gili Islands are perfect for a diver wishing to have a castaway experience. The Gili Islands are...Go>
Home to a stunning protected coral reef that plunges to 8000 ft, Grand Turk has some great dive sites minutes from the shore. Grand Turk is part of the group of islands that makes up the Turks and Caicos Islands. With 8...Go>
A gateway to some of the most exciting and diverse diving for all levels of divers, Hurghada is the perfect place to base yourself or to catch a Liveaboard Cruise to explore the best that the Red Sea offers. It is...Go>
An unspoilt environment on the beautiful Andaman coast, surrounded by National park forest, Khao Lak is ideally situated for diving in Thailand and trips to the Similan Islands and Surin Islands which are home to some of the best dive sites in...Go>
A jewel in the Andaman Sea, Koh Lanta is a laidback, relaxed island close to some of the coasts best dive sites. The Koh Lanta archipelago consists of over 50 islands, the two largest are Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta...Go>
Gateway to the magnificent Sea of Cortez, with access to a diverse selection of enjoyable and exciting dive sites, La Paz is a brilliant base to experience some of the best marine life encounters in the area has to offer. La Paz,...Go>
Beautiful topography and pristine dives site, Laamu has excellent channel and shallower reef sites and is a favourite on a lot of liveaboard itineraries. Please note that Laamu Atoll is also known as Hadhdhunmathee Atoll! Diving the Maldives can be undertaken in two...Go>
A very popular atoll with picturesque resort islands, Lhaviyani is as beautiful underwater with a variety of dive site sites, including shipwrecks, channel diving and pretty reefs. Lhaviyani Atoll is also known as Faadhippolhu Atoll. Diving the Maldives can be undertaken in two...Go>
A small exotic island famed for being the only place in the World with daily Thresher Shark sightings! This along with the Pygmy Seahorses and other cute critters makes the waters around Malapascua a diver’s paradise. Malapascua is a small island in...Go>
The best coral reefs in the Maldives are in Male’s brilliant blue waters. The most explored of all the atolls by divers due to its variety of dive sites, abundance of marine life and easy accessibility, Male is an excellent choice of...Go>
One of Egypt’s fastest growing holiday destinations, until recently Marsa Alam was just a small fishing village, then since the introduction of the new international airport in 2001 its popularity is growing, and is soon expected to rival the larger resorts in...Go>
Providing many diving opportunities, Meemu Atoll has Thilas, Channels, inner atoll reefs, caves and drop offs which is enough to excite any diver! Meemu Atoll is also known as Mulaku Atoll. Diving the Maldives can be undertaken in two ways, either by land or...Go>
The largest of the islands, Middle Caicos is an island of natural beauty, a more dramatic coastline than other islands and can reach some excellent dive sites. Middle Caicos is part of the group of islands that makes up the Turks and...Go>
Boasting the largest flock of pink flamingos in the islands and access to brilliant dive sites, North Caicos is a nature lovers getaway. North Caicos is part of the group of islands that makes up the Turks and Caicos Islands. With 8...Go>
The northernmost atolls in the Maldives include Haa Alifu aka North Thiladhunmathee, Haa Dhaalu aka South Thiladhunmathee, Shaviyani aka North Miladhunmadulu and Noonu aka South Miladhunmadulu. Diving the Maldives can be undertaken in two ways, either by land or by a liveaboard. This...Go>
A high chance of Sharks and Mola Mola’s, shallow coral reefs and steep wall dives, Padang Bai has some spectacular dive sites which cater for everyone. Based on the stunning island of Bali, which is Indonesia’s top tourist destination Padang Bai is...Go>
Well known for its marine bio-diversity, spectacular wall dives and vibrant colourful reefs, Palau is a top diving destination which attracts divers worldwide to experience one of the most unique holiday destinations on the Planet. Palau is a group of over 200...Go>
One of the most beautiful areas in Thailand, the Phi Phi Islands dramatic landscape is just as beautiful underwater as it is above. Perfectly placed to access all the best dive sites of the area, Koh Phi Phi is a very...Go>
Thailand’s largest island and most popular tourist destination provides everything any holiday maker could want, exquisite white sand beaches, warm balmy turquoise sea, a busy nightlife, and more importantly access to the top Thailand diving. Phuket, also known as “The Pearl of...Go>
A small beach town in the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica, Playas del Coco is known for great exciting diving with large marine life, especially Bull Sharks. Set on the Pacific coast it is one of the oldest beach communities in Guanacaste....Go>
A location that is still relatively unknown, The Turks and Caicos Islands have some excellent unspoilt dive sites, crystal clear water and abundant reef life making this a premier diving area. The best known of the Islands, Providenciales is one of the...Go>
The best kept secret of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Salt Cay is the ultimate getaway, total adventure and relaxation at its finest. No crowds, no cruise ships and no casinos and a diver’s paradise. Salt Cay is part of the group...Go>
The Belize barrier reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the second largest barrier reef in the world and boasts an incredible spectacle of marine life. The Sapodilla Caye is made up of 8 small beautiful islands located 35 miles from mainland...Go>
The southernmost island in the Maldives, Seenu isinternationally famous for its wrevck dives and abundance of large pelagic such as mantas, turtles and sharks throughout the year. Seenu Atoll is also known as Addu Atoll and located just south of the equator. Diving the...Go>
An unspoilt area of beauty and rich bio diversity, the Sekotong Peninsula in South Lombok has excellent diving with bright soft corals, plenty of reef life and Hammerhead Sharks! With over 3,500 species living in the Indonesian underwater world, it has one of...Go>
The most popular diving destination in the Red Sea, the waters around Sharm El Sheikh offer some of the most stunning and famous dive sites not just in the Red Sea but also the World. Sharm el Sheikh is located on...Go>
Manta Rays, Sharks and Whales!!! The Socorro Islands are a diver’s paradise offering once in a life time encounters with the oceans largest creatures, and is one of the only places in the world where you can swim with Humpback Whales! The Socorro...Go>
The fishing capital of the islands, South Caicos attracts those interested in birdlife, fishing, diving, fresh seafood and history South Caicos is part of the group of islands that makes up the Turks and Caicos Islands. Located at the southern tip of the...Go>
White Sand beaches lined with swaying Palm trees and beautiful blue water full of life, Fiji really is a tropical paradise. Known to many divers as “The Soft Coral Capital of the World” you can witness wondrous colourful displays when the coral...Go>
Abundant marine life and great channel diving; Thaa Atoll is also known as Kolhumadulu Atoll. Diving the Maldives can be undertaken in two ways, either by land or by a liveaboard. This choice entirely depends on the type of holiday you are after,...Go>
The largest island on the East coast of the Malay Peninsula, Tioman is a wonderful holiday and diving destination offering a variety of underwater sites such as wrecks, sheltered bays and volcanic rocky pinnacles. The densely forested island is surrounded by numerous...Go>
Resident Manta Rays and Whale Sharks are what have put Tofo Beach on the map and along with the stretches of beautiful beaches, laid back vibe and lively atmosphere this location is becoming a top holiday destination for divers and travellers alike. Tofo...Go>
Lying in the shadow of Bali’s highest volcano, Tulamben is Bali’s most popular diving area, home to an abundance of marine life and Bali’s most famous wreck, the USAT Liberty. Tulamben is the most famous diving area of Bali, a quiet village located...Go>
Tutukaka is the gateway to the amazing Poor Knights Islands rated by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world! Tutukaka is on the beautiful Northland coast of New Zealand. Its marina is the perfect departure...Go>
Unspoilt by the effects of mass tourism, with year round sunshine and a great close by reef, Zanzibar is an ideal scuba diving destination. Zanzibar Archipelago off the coast of Tanzania consists of two large islands, Unguja and Pemba, also with...Go>
Wonderful Channel diving, Vaavu Atoll is a very popular choice with divers and liveaboard cruises. Vaavu Atoll is also known as Felidhe Atoll and is the atoll below South Male Atoll. Diving the Maldives can be undertaken in two ways, either by land...Go>
A small peaceful beach resort, Watamu has some of Kenya’s finest diving in its nearby protected waters of Watamu Marine Reserve. Watamu is a quiet village next to the Indian Ocean’s protected waters of Watamu Marine National Park and this protection means...Go>