Meridian Adventure Dive bring you the monthly Raja Ampat Creature Feature series: Manta Rays
Manta rays are one of the main attractions for divers visiting Raja Ampat. There are several dive sites in the region where you can encounter these graceful creatures. One of the famous spots for manta ray sightings is the Dampier Strait, a narrow channel between Waigeo and Batanta islands. Here, strong currents bring nutrient-rich waters, creating an ideal environment for plankton, which, in turn, attracts manta rays.
In one location, you can see the Reef and Oceanic manta rays. Oceanic and Reef manta rays are two distinct species of manta rays, and while they share some similarities, they also have notable differences. Both belong to the Mobulidae family and are characterized by their large size, distinctive shape and cephalic fins on either side of their mouths.
Oceanic manta rays are larger than reef manta rays. They can have a wingspan of up to 23 feet (7 meters) or more, making them one of the largest species of rays. Reef manta rays are slightly smaller, with a wingspan typically ranging from 12 to 18 feet (3.5 to 5.5 meters).
Oceanic mantas often have a more uniform colouration on their dorsal (upper) side, ranging from black to brownish-grey. They may have some distinctive markings, but they are generally less pronounced than those of reef mantas. Reef mantas are known for their striking colour patterns and markings on their dorsal side. These patterns are unique to each individual and can be used for identification purposes. Reef mantas often have a black or dark colouration with prominent white markings on their cephalic fins and body.
Oceanic mantas are more associated with open-water behaviours and long-distance migrations. They may travel great distances across ocean basins. Reef mantas are often more site-specific and can be found in shallower waters near coral reefs. They may exhibit different behaviours, such as cleaning station visits, where smaller fish remove parasites from their skin.
While manta rays have long been the focus of many diving trips worldwide, much remains to be discovered about these species. Marine parks like the Raja Ampat MPA allow scientists and recreational divers to see these incredible animals up close.
It has also led to a massive increase in boat traffic to the area. In the known manta season months, Raja Ampat, there is an enormous increase in liveaboards that offer diving services. While this does allow more to share the experience, it has also led to a change in the behaviour patterns of the mantas. They have become drastically more elusive to the area and are often found on reefs where they have never been spotted.
When planning your trip to Raja Ampat to see manta rays, you should go with a reputable dive operator or guide familiar with the local dive sites and conditions. They can help ensure an enjoyable and safe diving experience while maximizing your chances of encountering these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
About Meridian Adventure Dive
Situated in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Meridian Adventure Dive is a PADI 5 Star Resort and winner of the PADI Green Star award. Scuba divers enjoy our professional services that have become synonymous with both the PADI and Meridian Adventure names.