Home » Ocean Life » Manta Rays
  • Manta Rays are seen on many of our tours
  • Manta Ray feeding on plankton at night
  • Manta Rays scoop up plankton by performing barrel rolls
  • Manta Ray feeding
  • Manta Rays feed during the daytime too!
  • Eagle Rays are spotted on some of our tours
  • Eagle Ray on the reef
  • Eagle Ray cruising the reef
  • Eagle Ray swimming in open water

Ocean Life


Manta Rays

GENERAL DESCRIPTION Manta rays are large beautiful sea creatures that live in warm temperate waters. Their side or pectoral fins have evolved into wide triangular wings which are use to easily propel themselves through the water. With wingspans that reach over 20 feet across, manta rays are one of the largest animals in the ocean. Their broad blanket-like bodies earned them the name manta, which means cloak in Spanish. Their Hawaiian name is Hahalua.

Mantas are members of a group called batoids, which include rays, skates and related fish. More specifically, manta rays are members of a larger ray group, scientifically called Myliobatiformes. Rays share common characteristics such as flattened, streamlined bodies and pectoral fins that have evolved large and wide to make up much of their bodies.

Manta rays belong to the family of rays referred to as devil rays, scientifically called Mobulidae. Devil rays share the common characteristic of cephalic or head fins. When unfurled, the fins help to funnel in food and water into the mouth. To make the fins more streamlined, manta rays can roll up these flexible appendages. When furled, these fins were thought to resemble devil horns.


When further broken down, manta rays belong to the genus; Manta and the species name birostris. Presently, the scientific community identifies all manta rays as one species called Manta birostris. In the past, manta rays were broken into as many as nine species based on their size, coloration, and location. Researchers are working on clearing up this mystery by taking tissue samples of various animals worldwide and comparing mitochondrial DNA.


COLOR MORPHOLOGY: Many of what were in the past-considered different species of manta rays are in fact simply different colors of mantas. Similar to how there are different races in humans, mantas can have different color morphologies. In Hawaii, we typically see mantas that are black dorsally (on their back) with white dorsal "shoulder bars". Ventrally (on their belly) they are mostly white, with a pattern of black spots. While the dorsal coloration is relatively similar in mantas worldwide, ventrally they can be very different. The most extreme difference is the "black mantas". These mantas are predominantly black on their ventral surface, with small spots or patches of white. While both black and white mantas can be seen together in some locations, the white color morphology is always more dominant. However, we know these are not different species because where they are seen together, the white mantas are genetically more similar to black mantas from that area than they are to white mantas from any other area.





WOW!!! I've uploaded my photos and a comment (to my blog) which I hope will help keep you guys in business. Your cruise was probably one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.
Cheers guys, Pranav