Sometimes referred to as the “Butterflies of the Sea”, these graceful animals are a sight that must been seen in person. Manta rays are beautiful sea creatures that live in warm tropical waters. Their side fins have evolved into wide triangular wings with which they use to “fly” through the water. These wings range from 4-20 ft, making them amongst the largest sea creatures anywhere. The Manta ray is one of Hawaii’s most fascinating and stunningly beautiful sights. (Check out www.sunlightonwater.com for the latest information)
Believed to have a lifespan of up to 25 years, this greatest of the ray family have been documented swimming at depths of 100 feet, but no one really knows how deep they can swim. Unlike most of their relatives, Manta Rays have NO teeth, stinger or barbs and are completely safe to be around. We invite you to have yet another experience of a lifetime…a night snorkel with these angels of the Ocean. The forward-pointing, paddle-like organs at each corner of a Manta’s mouth are termed “cephalic lobes”. They are basically forward extensions of the pectoral wings, complete with supporting radial cartilages.
Mantas have been observed using their cephalic lobes like scoops to help push plankton-bearing water into their mouths. When Mantas are not actively feeding, the cephalic lobes are often furled like a flag ready for storage or held with their tips touching. Either of these cephalic lobe positions may reduce drag during long-distance swimming. Mantas are known to leap completely out of the water and do so for a variety of possible reasons. They may do it to escape a potential predator or to rid themselves of skin parasites. Or they may leap to communicate to others of their own species — the great, crashing splash of their re-entries can often be heard from miles (kilometers) away.
It’s anyone’s guess what they may be trying to communicate. Leaping male Mantas may be demonstrating their fitness as part of a courtship display. Since these leaps are highly energetic and often repeated several times in succession, they may also represent a form of play. You may be wondering why we go snorkeling with the Mantas at night? Although Mantas are most commonly seen during daylight hours, it’s only because that is when most observers are in the water. Scientifically, we do not know exactly what Mantas do at night or how active they are, but they may feed most actively at night, when many planktonic creatures naturally rise surfaceward, providing a rich bounty on which Mantas may feed. Using dive lights, we are able to attract concentrations of these plankton and therefore attract the Mantas. It is exhilarating to be in the Ocean at night with the Mantas. 176 Manta Rays have been identified and named along the Kona Coast. (For more information, please contact Michael & Melainah Yee — PO Box 4729 — Kailua-Kona, HI 96745 — Email: SunLightOnWater@gmail. com — Telephone: (808) 896-2480 — FAX: (808) 331-2303)