As we are lucky enough to dive with manta rays all year long here in Nusa Penida, we thought we would give you a few facts about these gentle giants that we love so much!
Mantas belong to the same family as a lot of other rays, such at the mobula ray (a close cousin!)
It was only discovered a few years ago that there are two species of manta rays: Oceanic mantas (manta birostris), and Reef manta (manta alfredi), the ones you will hopefully meet in Manta Point!
Oceanic mantas are bigger than the reef ones, and present as well a few visual differences.
But both species have a lot in common: first, they all carry a unique marking on their belly that is like their fingerprint. Around Nusa Penida already hundreds of mantas have been identified thanks to the work of Marine Megafauna Foundation that has created a database of the local mantas of Nusa Penida.
Both species also feed on plankton, which is a behaviour you might be lucky enough to see while diving on Nusa Penida. The mantas swim and sometimes backflip, mouth wide open, to filter the plankton in the water.
Finally, they love a good clean and you might also spot them hovering very still over the reefs in Manta Point while some smaller cleaner fish go around to pick parasites off the manta rays.
Here in Indonesia, manta rays have been protected since 2014, and fishing them is not allowed anywhere in the country. Unfortunately with the combined effects of illegal fishing, boat traffic and ghost nets, manta rays are threatened today.
How to help them? First, have a respectful behaviour when diving with mantas. We will brief you about distance and their behaviour so you can enjoy great encounters with them.
Finally, you can….have your own manta! Marine Megafauna Foundation runs an adoption program and you can choose and name your own manta and receive updates when it is being seen in the water!