Scuba Diving with Manta Rays in Komodo, Indonesia
Essential facts for your manta ray encounter – the majestic gentle giants of the sea
Gliding elegantly through the sea, manta rays are a sight to behold.
Measuring 4-7 metres, diving with manta rays can be intimidating. But despite their jaw-dropping size, they are docile creatures that will amaze anybody.
Here are some essential facts to bear in mind when diving in the world of manta rays:
What Is A Manta Ray?
The manta is the largest ray in the world. It is closely related to stingrays, with its flattened body and long tail, and to sharks for their cartilaginous skeletons.
However, there are only two types of manta rays:
- Reef Manta: average width 5 metres (18 feet). This is the species you’ll find in Komodo.
- Giant Manta : average width 7 metres (23 feet).
These two species have their distinguishing features and characteristics, but share the same diamond-shape body and wing-like pectoral fins, laterally placed eyes, and wide frontal mouths.
Where Do They Live?
As their name suggests, the giant manta ray is found in open oceans, whereas the reef manta ray lives in shallower coastal waters.
Are Manta Rays Dangerous?
Every diver’s dream is of one day having a manta ray encounter – better yet, to swim side by side with them. But are manta rays dangerous? Not at all. Although they have a tail like stingrays, manta rays do not have a poisonous sting and are not aggressive, so relax. They are huge, but not dangerous.
Truth be told, they are known for being curious and for approaching divers, putting on impressive acrobatic shows.
- They have the largest brain of all fish.
- Their name “manta” comes from the Spanish for “blanket” after their appearance, but also to indicate a blanket used traditionally to catch them.
- If they stop swimming they’d sink.
- They have personal identifying spots under their bellies, much like our fingerprints.
- They jump out of the water. Scientists still don’t know why. To get rid of parasites from their bodies or to perform a dazzling courtship ritual? One thing’s for sure, they make a big belly-flop splash!
Photo: Manta Ray Komodo
Are They at Risk of Extinction?
Manta ray’s population is rapidly declining on a global scale. Its biggest threats are overfishing, water pollution and climate change. Because of its slow reproduction rate, it is very unlikely that manta rays will recover – especially in unprotected areas.
Why Scuba Dive with Manta Rays in Komodo?
Komodo is situated in the Komodo National Park, a UNESCO heritage site. It is home to 25% of the world’s fish species and 15% of its coral.
What’s more, in 2014 the Indonesian government put a ban on fishing and exporting manta rays. To date, it is the largest sanctuary for manta rays and one of the few places where it is possible to encounter this species.
Dragon Dive Komodo is a strong advocate for promoting sustainable tourism and best dive practices – essential for the survival of manta rays and the habitat they live in.
Manta Ray Season in Komodo
Thanks to the abundance of food in Komodo National Park, there is no Manta ray season. Mantas in Komodo can be found all-year round.
For best diving conditions, however, visit Komodo between June and September.
While Komodo National Park is one of the most renowned dive destinations in the world, it is also on top of the list for one of the best places to scuba dive with manta rays. What more could you possibly ask for?