Beneath the tropical waters off of Kona lurks a mysterious creature. It is flat like a carpet, with triangle fins that flap up and down, almost like it is flying beneath the water. This creature is also huge! It can easily top 3,000 pounds in weight (1.4 tons), and stretch over 15 feet long (4.5 meters) from fin to fin. When it feeds, its large mouth opens wide to scoop the plankton of the sea.
Pretty scary, right?
Nonsense! This is the manta ray, one of the strangest but coolest creatures you will find off the coast of Kona and throughout the warm waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. Don’t let their size fool you. Manta rays are gentle creatures that feed only on plankton. In fact, you can even jump in the water and swim with the manta rays. It is an experience that you will never forget!
Learning More About Manta Rays
Manta rays belong to the taxonomic Mobulidae family. They are closely related to sharks, but they don’t have any sharp teeth or a taste for toes and fingers. There are actually two species of manta rays – manta birostris and manta alfredi. Manta B. is an oceanic manta that is much bigger than the manta A. and tends to travel much farther out into the open water. They can weigh as much as 4,400 pounds and reach 23 feet across! Manta A. is a reef dweller and tends to stay closer to shore.
Both types of mantas must constantly move to keep oxygen-rich water flowing through their gills. They also like to stop by coral reefs for a quick cleanup. Here in Hawaii, a small species of fish called a wrasses will eat away destructive organisms that attach themselves to mantas. Such is the beauty and the symbiotic nature of the ocean ecosystem.
Want to Swim with Manta Rays?
There’s nothing cooler than meeting a manta ray in person, which is why we offer bucket list trips like the Sunset Manta Ray Swim and the Moonlight Manta Ray Swim two of our most popular tours! Hop on board where we take you out to a popular manta ray gathering spot. With our well-trained guides on hand, we share an experience of a lifetime where you these gentle giants perform a ballet all around you. It is truly a magical and transformative experience!
Learn more about our manta ray tours and see why these creatures are so amazing for yourself!