Manta Ray: Facts & Information Guide
Learn interesting facts about stingrays that will make you never put off snorkeling with them again
Volcanoes, beaches, temples, orangutans, dragons - while traveling to Bali, it's all exciting and interesting. There is no such person who would not be inspired by the trip and would not receive incredible emotions and impressions from it. But most of all people are delighted with manti. These giant stingrays fascinate everyone. However, they are safe for humans. The size of this harmless animal is truly amazing. The only predator that can attack the sea devil is large carnivorous sharks. Mantas have nothing as a defensive weapon. They do not have sharp spikes like stingrays, and do not produce electrical discharges like some rays. Therefore, the attack can end tragically for the manta. But man became convinced of the safety of these animals only recently, and in the 60s of the 20th century, the sea devils appeared before people in the form of bloodthirsty creatures. Feature films were even made where manta rays appeared as killers.
Today, divers from all over the world come to dive in Nusa Penida to meet two pelagic fish: the manta ray and the mola mola. Manta rays can be seen almost all year round: but Mola Mola - from July to October.
Oceanic or reef manta?
There are two types of manta: the oceanic or giant manta ray (birostris) and the reef ray (alfredi). The one you'll see in Bali, Nusa Penida to be exact, are the reef manta rays. Their wingspan can reach 5 meters. They have pectoral fins, horny cephalic fins, a large forward-facing mouth, and five pairs of gill slits on the ventral surface. The back of the fish is painted black, and the belly is snow-white, with an individual number of spots for each individual, thanks to this color it is well camouflaged in the water.
The brain of the sea devil is larger than that of other rays or sharks. For their intelligence, docile nature and tameness, manta rays are well-deserved love among divers around the world who come to the islands of the Indian Ocean to swim side by side with manta rays. In addition, they are quite curious. When an interesting object appears on the surface, it emerges and drifts on the waves, watching what is happening. Maybe that's why in ancient times the meeting of a boat with a huge "carpet" that looks at you with an interested look, and gave rise to a wary attitude towards the sea devil?
Another feature of the manta is its jumping over water. It is not exactly clear what purpose the devil is pursuing by jumping 1.5 m above the surface of the water. His deafening landing of a 2-ton body is heard for several kilometers around.
Nusa Penida also has Mobula rays. They are smaller, but sometimes they can be confused with young manta rays. The main difference is the position of the mouth, ventral in Mobula's rays, and the much shorter tail.
Where does manta ray live ?
Manta rays live in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical waters. The oceanic manta ray migrates across the open oceans. But the reef manta lives closer to the shore.
What is a manta ray cleaning station ?
A cleaning station is a place where a fish gathers for cleaning of parasites present on its body, mouth or gills. Cleaning stations are usually located on corals. The stingray swims slowly around the coral while the cleaner fish eats the parasites. Rays and cleaner fish really form a kind of symbiosis.
What does manta ray eat ?
Manta rays feed on plankton in the form of shrimp, krill and planktonic crabs. The manta ray locates its prey by sight and smell. It swims slowly towards them and uses its head fins to guide food into its wide open mouth. The water is then filtered and exits through the gills. When not in search of food, its head fins coil into a spiral shape to be more hydrodynamic.
What about the babies?
The sea devil breeds very rarely (about every 5 years). The female gives birth to one cub, which is already born longer than 1 m. A young devil is born rolled into a tube, but, leaving the mother's womb, immediately spreads its wings and begins to "fly" in circles around the adult female. During the year, the baby increases in length by about 2 times. Manti live for about 50 years. During the breeding season, manta rays return to the open sea, and the location of Cape Manta is sometimes deserted.
Are manta rays dangerous ?
No, manti is not dangerous. They are smart and very curious, easily tamed. Often they show their curiosity at the sight of an unknown object on the surface, emerge, drift nearby, and observe the events taking place.
They can be dangerous only during the jump - 3 tons falling from above on a person can certainly be dangerous.
Are manta ray endangered ?
In nature, the sea devil has almost no enemies, with the exception of carnivorous sharks, and even they attack almost only young animals. In addition to their large size, the sea devil has no protection from enemies; the stinging spike characteristic of electric stingrays is either absent or present in a residual state and does not pose any threat to anyone. However, the manta is still classified as vulnerable by the Convention on Migratory Species. The main threats are overfishing, pollution and global warming. In 2014, Indonesia banned the capture and export of manta rays. Thus, today it is the world's largest reserve for these animals with its 5.7 million square kilometers of oceans.
Where are Manta rays found in Bali?
There are two main dive sites, Manta Bay or Manta Point, where snorkeling and manta ray diving usually take place. The probability of seeing manta rays in these places reaches 95%. Manta Bay is the most popular manta snorkeling destination. According to local residents and guides, you can almost always see manta rays here. The best time to visit the bays is in the morning. For this reason, it can get very crowded during the early hours. Manta Point is one of the southernmost dive sites on the island is Manta Point, surrounded by high cliffs. Usually, experienced divers come here who are not afraid of treacherous currents, rough seas and depths. Here is the manta cleaning station - here these majestic creatures rest at a depth of 13-20 feet (4-6 meters) while smaller fish clean them.
You can also see manta rays from the top of the Nusa Penida cliffs. But going down from the cliff to any beach to swim with manta rays, unfortunately, will not work.
Diving with Manta Ray
Some dive centers stop at Manta Bay for short cuts and gas savings. The chance of seeing manta rays there is lower, about 80%, because they are chased by many snorkeling boats.