Here in Nusa Penida we are lucky enough that we get to dive with manta rays often, the most popular dive sites to see them being Manta Point and Manta Bay.
Let's have a look at some facts about manta rays!
What are the different species of Manta Rays?
There are two main species of manta rays: the giant oceanic manta ray and the reef manta ray.
The giant oceanic manta ray, also known as the Manta birostris, is the larger of the two species. It can grow to up to 7 meters (23 feet) in width and weigh up to 2,300 kilograms (5,000 pounds). It has a distinctive black or dark blue color on top and white on the underside, and it has large, triangular pectoral fins that resemble wings. The giant oceanic manta ray is found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world, including the waters around Nusa Penida.
The reef manta ray, also known as the Manta alfredi, is smaller than the giant oceanic manta ray, growing up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) in width and weighing up to 1,350 kilograms (3,000 pounds). It has a similar color pattern to the giant oceanic manta ray, but its pectoral fins are more rounded and it has distinctive white markings on its head. The reef manta ray is found in shallow, coastal waters in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the waters around Nusa Penida.
Both species of manta rays are gentle giants and are generally not aggressive towards humans. They are filter feeders and feed on plankton and small fish. They are also a popular species for divers to encounter, as they are graceful and inquisitive, and often approach divers in the water.
How to dive with manta rays?
Diving with manta rays can be a thrilling and unforgettable experience, but it is important to follow safe diving practices to protect both yourself and the mantas. Here are some tips for diving safely with manta rays:
Choose a reputable dive operator or resort that is experienced in manta ray diving and follows ethical and responsible diving guidelines.
Follow the dive briefing and instructions from your dive guide or instructor, and never touch or harass the mantas.
Maintain a safe distance from the mantas, and avoid swimming directly over them or blocking their path.
Use proper buoyancy control and avoid kicking or stirring up the bottom, which can disturb the mantas and the surrounding marine life.
Be aware of your surroundings and the manta's behavior, and exit the water if the mantas appear agitated or uncomfortable.
Respect the mantas and their environment, and avoid litter or pollution that can harm the mantas and their habitat.
By following these guidelines or the Nusa Penida Marine Park code of conduct, you can enjoy a safe and responsible manta ray diving experience and help protect these incredible animals.