Manta rays are one of the world’s most charismatic creatures, and swimming with them certainly tops our guests’ bucket lists. Throughout our manta season the team at Hurawalhi run regular trips out to see these incredible gentle giants; over 200 guests already joined our marine biologists on manta search expeditions this year. These excursions are also a valuable opportunity for our resident marine biologists and researchers, Lynn and Tiff, to collect important data for The Manta Trust who continue to work hard to help protect these iconic fish.
Since the start of 2019, we’ve been lucky to have over 180 manta sightings of 56 different mantas and potentially 5 previously unknown individuals. We crunched the numbers and confirmed that we’ve seen mantas on more than 87% of our trips!
Most of these sightings have happened at our nearby sandbank, where the sheltered lagoon is the perfect area for mantas to feed, with large quantities of plankton getting concentrated in the bay.
However, we’ve not only seen manta rays feeding, we even witnessed courtship activity when a beautiful female manta named Laurel was spotted leading a courtship train of 7 males! These processions are designed to test the endurance of potential mates by seeing which of the males can keep up as the female swims quickly, performing twists and somersaults in the water. These trains can typically last for many hours, and in fact, Laurel and the males were still going strong a whopping 6 hours after they were first seen!
Most sighted mantas:
○ Nestlé (16 sightings) (female)
○ Crusty (11 sightings) (female)
○ Mesopotamia (10 sightings) (male)
○ Antonio (8 sightings) (male)
○ Sam (7 sightings) (male)
Most popular locations:
○ Veligadu Falhu (Huravalhi Sandbank): accounts for 151 sightings, mostly feeding behaviour
○ Huravalhi Finolhu (Hurawalhi house reef): 8 sighting