Birds of the Sea
The reef manta ray is the second largest ray species in the world next to its close relative, the giant oceanic manta, growing up to 3.5 m (12 feet) wide, or more. In fact, these two types were considered a single species until 2009 when they were officially split into two distinct species. Reef mantas can be found in tropical and subtropical waters throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Unlike the deeper dwelling giant oceanic manta, they prefer shallower waters and are typically found cruising over coral reefs and other coastal habitats.
Due to their more shallow habitat and fact that they do not make large migrations, preferring to stay within a certain area, they are easy to encounter while diving in coastal, reef, and island waters. There is nothing like watching these large filter feeders soar past you like a flock of birds. If you’ve always wanted to go diving with reef manta rays, click on the map below to discover the best dive sites where they can be encountered.