Manta Rays are the largest of the rays and can be found in Coral Bay all year round. Scientists have recently discovered that there are two species of these amazing creatures. Manta alfredi is the coastal manta that we find here on the Ningaloo Reef. These guys generally measure between 2 to 4 meters from wing tip to wing tip. The other species of manta ray is the oceanic manta, manta birostris, which is thought to be able to grow to be 9m in length!
The key feature of these rays that distinguish them from the others is their cephalic lobes. These lobes are found on the manta’s head and are unfurled when the manta feeds. Though these guys are huge they eat some of the smallest things found in the ocean, plankton. Tiny plants and animals that we can barely see get funnelled into the ray’s mouth by the cephalic lobes and then get caught by the sieve-like gill rakers.
Manta Rays are not dangerous to humans as they do not possess a stinging barb. They can swim at speeds of up to 70km / hour and are so big that over time they have evolved and lost the protective stinging barb. As such we can offer the opportunity to swim with these gentle giants here in Coral Bay. Few known places in the world are lucky enough to have a ‘resident’ population of mantas and see them on a regular basis.