(Giant Manta or Manta birostris
and Reef manta or Manta alfredi)
MANTA RAY (Giant Manta or Manta birostris and Reef Manta or Manta alfredi)
In 2009, the genus Manta was split into two species thanks to Dr. Andrea Marshall who identified a new species of Manta off Tofo: the Reef Manta (Manta alfredi). She is the founder of the Marine Megafauna Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization based in Tofo that focuses on the research and conservation of threatened large marine species, and the first woman in the world to do a PhD on Manta Rays!
Tofo is one of the very few spots in the world where you can see both the Giant Manta
(Manta birostris) and the Reef Manta in the same dive site! They are seen around Tofo
all year round and they generally average 5 meters disc width. Like the Whale Shark, they
are filter feeders using gill rakers to filter zooplankton out of the water and they have
developed a number of strategies to become true feeding machines! These include
surface feeding, bottom feeding, barrel rolling and cooperative feeding. They are also
very reliant on our cleaning stations for the regular grooming from butterfly fish and
cleaner wrasse. Each Manta has a pattern of black spots on the white belly that is
unique to each individual, like a ‘fingerprint’. These natural spot patterns do not change
markedly over time and, together with distinctive scars on their body, can be used by
scientists reliably to identify individual Mantas for life. Using this technique, about
750 individual manta rays have been specifically identified around Tofo, with an
estimated population of 1400 individuals in the area. These are mostly seen at depths
from 20 to 30 meters over the reefs, but on the Ocean/Bio safaris there is also a chance
seeing them cruising just a couple of meters below the surface.
PLEASE NOTE THAT AN ENCOUNTER WITH MANTA RAYS CAN NEVER BE GUARANTEED ON A PARTICULAR OCEAN SAFARI OR DIVEI!! This is what makes the wild so special; every day is just unique!