Mantas make the cut for being classified as large marine predators (LMP’s); a society that is little known but of high interest to marine science because of their unique abilities not just within themselves but to cycle nutrients between depth to drive ocean productivity called tropic cascades! It is also thought that they may use their ability to dive deep to navigate more precisely on their long-distance ocean ventures by getting closer to the earth’s magnetic field. What??? Not only that, who knows how they are born? No one has seen this yet. The list goes on and on for these amazing ocean citizens.
As our tour leaders were leading a snorkelling session in Raja Ampat on a Jewels of Raja Ampat trip, our group came across an individual reef manta ray gliding along in the shallows. Our quick-thinking tour leader Dani Mulyana took out his camera and managed to take the beautuful shots below, capturing her unique markings in the process. He sent the images off to the Manta Trust in Indonesia so that they might identify the individual and gain more information on her health and migration habits. It turns out that she was an as yet unidentified specimen, and the Manta Trust were overjoyed.
One of the highlights of a SeaTrek Komodo trip is the opportunity to snorkel with giant manta rays at Karang Makassar or Manta Point, which despite – and because of – the strong currents, is one of the most interesting places in the Komodo National Park. Manta Point is a cleaning station, a specific location where manta rays come to get cleaned by parasitic copepods and a variety of small cleaner wrasse species that pick parasites from the mantas’ hovering bodies. Mantas spend many hours every day getting cleaned and can even wait in line for their turn.