Manta rays, the emblem of our diving school, are fascinating, elegant, graceful and powerful animals.
Find out more about these giants below:
What is a Manta ray?
The Manta ray is a fish, it breathes underwater thanks to its gills. It’s not a mammal, so if it often comes to the surface, it is not to breathe.
How to recognize a Manta ray?
The Manta ray is the largest of the rays, with a wingspan of 4 to 7 meters and a weight of 1 to 2 tons.
They can live up to forty years.
Manta rays have a flat body. Their back is dark (usually brown, blue or black), while their belly is light.
On their back you can see some light spots and on their belly some dark spots. These spots are unique and specific to each ray. They allow distinguishing and recognizing the different individuals.
The Manta ray has five pairs of gill slits on its belly. Its pectoral fins are triangular. They are located on each side of its body, as are its eyes.
The two cephalic horns, made of cartilage, are located at the front of the body, on either side of the mouth. When deployed, these horns serve to concentrate and direct the plankton on which the Manta ray feeds.
What do Manta rays eat?
To feed, the Manta ray must swim with its mouth open and its cephalic horns deployed. This allows it to direct seawater into its mouth. The ingested water is filtered through the gills, allowing the Manta ray to breathe and feed on the plankton in the water.
How do Manta rays reproduce?
Manta rays are ovoviviparous: the egg hatches inside the female, which gives birth to a fully formed young. The reproductive period varies according to the location and type of Manta ray.
Reproduction is preceded by courtship. It’s a kind of dance of the male and female “flying” together underwater.
Gestation lasts more than a year. The female gives birth to a calf that can measure up to 1.2 m and weigh 45 kg in the case of the largest specimens. After birth, the mother does not feed her young, which are immediately independent.
Where do Manta rays live?
Manta rays are found in tropical and subtropical areas. They are found mainly in the three great oceans: Pacific and Indian, but also in the Atlantic. They like warm and temperate waters.
In Costa Rica, you may have the opportunity to observe them while diving in Catalina Islands, in the Guanacaste region.
Manta rays travel a lot to follow the plankton. They not only travel to reproduce like many species, but also to follow their food.
Are Manta rays intelligent?
Manta rays have the largest brain of all fish.
If you compare the size and weight of the Manta ray’s brain to the size and weight of its body, it has one of the largest brains in the animal kingdom.
Recent studies have shown that Manta rays are aware of themselves when viewed in a mirror. If these results are validated, it will confirm that Manta rays are among the most intelligent marine species.
Do Manta rays have predators?
Oceanic Manta rays have very few predators, their large size commands respect.
In any case, they can swim fast enough to escape. It’s common to see Manta rays with damaged wings, due to shark bite marks, signs that they may have escaped an attack.
Dive with Manta rays in Catalina Islands
With a bit of luck you can have the chance to observe Manta rays in Catalina Islands in Costa Rica. Indeed, they never stay in one place for very long.
In any case, Catalina Islands are full of incredible marine biodiversity. You can easily see other types of rays, sting rays, devil rays, guitar rays, white tip sharks, turtles, schools of fish, moray eels, octopuses…
We offer diving tour for divers without certification and for certified divers.
We leave from Tamarindo with our transfer and board in Flamingo bay to then reach the islands.
Ready to discover the incredible biodiversity?
Book your scuba diving tour from Tamarindo with Be Water Diving here.