Reefs are large underwater cities, around which a life system of thousands of living beings is created, each one with its work and its function. And like in every city ... there are also night shows! And one of the most impressive is, without a doubt, the majestic dance of the reef mantas! The reef manta (Mobula Alfredi) is one of the largest and most-iconic marine species in the Maldives. Like sharks, they belong to the group of cartilaginous fish or elasmobranchs, but they are not dangerous.
They can measure up to 4.5 metres in wingspan, weigh 700kg, and live 40 years! Because they frequent relatively shallow waters along the coastal reefs of the continents and oceanic islands, encounters with this species are more frequent than with its cousins, the ocean manta (Mobula birostris).
Reef mantas are widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the Indian Ocean and western Pacific. However, they are also threatened by targeted fisheries driven by demand for their gills. Therefore, divers, promoting diving ecotourism with these wonderful animals, we help their conservation! And in return, they help us make our dreams come true by being part of the magical night dance that they star in.
At nightfall, the lights on the stern of boats attract and concentrate the zooplankton, which is the food of our hosts, the manta rays. That is why, in a matter of minutes, they can get to feed a few metres from us. As soon as the first manta appears, it is time to get in - the dive is easy, it consists only of staying still a few metres deep, and enjoying!
It is such a captivating dance that it does not need any more music than the bubbling of our air tanks! And it allows us to contemplate every detail, very closely (and when we say very closely, we mean having the manta rays a few inches from our eyes!). When manta rays open their mouths to feed, they unfold those horn-shaped projections, called cephalic lobes, to channel planktonrich water through their specially adapted gills.
To optimize energy, mantas have developed many variations in their swimming positions to improve feeding efficiency.
To date, expert scientists have described a total of eight different eating strategies!
Did you know?Manta rays have the largest brain to body weight ratio of any living fish; giving it enough smarts to make the average dolphin jealous. Essential informationLocation: Maldives Depth: 2m-3m Diver level: Beginner Who to dive with Blue Force Fleet www.blueforcefleet.com
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USNS General Hoyt S Vandenberg
Scuba Diver Magazine
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