Diving with Mantas... more pics and interesting facts

Sabrina's selfie with a Manta!

 We’re excited to share more photos from a great day with you... a milestone moment for us.  

Missed the story?

Sabrina wrote about her experience battling her ear injury, and her first dive in 3 years, on “Rebirth of a Mermaid” : http://greencoconutrun.com/2019/04/09/the-rebirth-of-a-mermaid/

Kristian introduced the story on his post “Sabby’s Mantas” http://greencoconutrun.com/2019/03/29/sabbys-mantas/

Can you spot the crouching captain? This photo also shows the blue cleaner fish which live in this part of the reef. The mantas come visit the cleaner fish for a daily "spa treatment", letting them eat any parasites off their skin by slowly circling the reef outcroppings. By anticipating their methodical movements, we're able to dive down, hang onto a rock, and wait for them to swim by. 

Ramoras, aka sucker fish, going for a ride with a Manta. Ramoras love to tag along with rays, sharks, whales... and sailboats. We often have several underneath Aldebaran when we're at anchor in Tuamotus. They feed on scraps left by their hosts. 

From the deck of the boat, you look down and see nothing... only blue water. You could mistake this place for being pretty, but boring.  Then you stick your head below the surface with a mask... and you see this. That's why snorkeling masks are like having a superpower -- opening up a whole new world of experiences!

Think about this shot for a second... Sabrina dives down and posts up by a rock. The curious manta actually swims toward her... and Kristian is perfectly in frame behind. All this holding our breath for a loong time, which for Sabrina, is her first time freediving in 3 years. Remarkable!

"The reef manta ray is a large animal, but feeds on tiny creatures called plankton. Specifically, zooplankton. Its teeth are useless when feeding as this species filter food through plates called gill rakers that are found in their ventral gills. When eating their cephalic lobes are unwound and extended to allow the entry of water into the mouth." Source: Manta Ray world 

In French Polynesia the Manta Ray is revered. Stories are told of how mantas have saved sailors lost at sea. After shipwrecking and coming across mantas,  desperate sailors grab onto their silky backs and were towed back to land. The myth is that mantas - and sea turtles - do not dive down if being held. I'm not sure if this is true!

Source: As told by a local in Tuamotus

Natural predation

Because of its large size and velocity in case of danger (24 km/h or 15 mph escape speed), the reef manta ray therefore has very few natural predators which can be fatal to it. Only big sharks, as for example the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier), the great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) or the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), and also the false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) and the killer whale (Orcinus orca) are known to kill and eat mantas. The reef manta ray may escape an attack, leaving it with a part of the wing missing.

Human predation

The reef manta ray is considered to be vulnerable by the IUCN in its Red List of Threatened Species because their population decreased drastically over the last twenty years due to overfishing... [their] low fecondity rate, a long gestation period with mainly a pup at the time, a late sexual maturity. In recent years, fishing for manta rays is significantly boosted by prices of their gill rakers on the market of the traditional Chinese medicine.

Source: Wikipedia 

The mantas in these pictures are "Reef Mantas" (manta alfredi) which travel between shallow coastal areas and reach a maximum size of 4 meters in width. The famous "Giant Manta" (manta birostris) reaches up to 7.5m in width and is a deep water, oceanic species. They can be easily confused and were only identified as a separate species in 2009. 

Source: Guide de Poisson de Tahiti et ses Iles


From the Green Coconut Run Blog last week:

  • Birthday Reflections
  • The mechanics of 20 minute sleeping
  • The Costs of Motoring (and benefits to batteries) 
  • Waterfront Apataki, with an afternoon rainbow
  • Who needs sailboats... when there’s vans and drones (funny video!)
  • The Supply Issue: Haul Out
  • The Big Picture Why
  • Rebirth of a Mermaid

Also there’s a nice collection of new photos on our Instagram feed.