Manta Ray appears to be "flying" through the water

Published October 30, 2019 2,132 Views

Rumble / Wild WildlifeSwimming with mantas had been a dream of mine for years, and after a whole month looking for them (I had been in the water with them twice, but hadn't seen them), I finally had this encounter... we swam with it for over five minutes, and once I couldn't kick anymore and thought that was it, another one showed up! And the same thing happened... there were quite a few mantas around and being in the water with them is an indescribable feeling!

The Giant Manta Ray (Mobula birostris), also known as Oceanic Manta Ray, is one of the two currently accepted manta species, the other one being the Reef Manta Ray (Mobula alfredi). Until recently, they used to belong to the Manta genus, but it was discovered that they are very closely related to the rays belonging to the Mobula genus, so now the mantas are also classified in the Mobula genus, along with nine species of Devil Rays. There is a possible third species of Manta being researched in the Atlantic, sharing some similarities with the Giant Manta Ray, but also some clear differences.

The Giant Manta Ray is the biggest species of Ray and the fifth biggest species of fish in the world. While all rays have a cartilaginous skeleton, flattened bodies, enlarged pectoral fins fused to the head, and gill slits on the underside, Mobulids have triangular-shaped pectoral fins, and two cephalic lobes extending from the front of their heads to help with feeding. They are filter feeders, and these modified fins help to conduct the food into their mouths.

Because of their wing-like pectoral fins, they are not bottom dwellers, like other rays species, but flap them to swim, which makes them look like they are flying under the under. Such majestic creatures! It is an unforgettable sighting!