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Manta Rays in Kona Hawaii

Record Night at Manta Heaven - July 3, 2012

Wednesday, July 04, 2012
The fireworks went off a day early!

July 3, 2012: We are reporting a record night with 41 Manta Rays sighted at Manta Heaven !!! OMG...unbelievable!!!

Here are the stars of the show:

20 Females:
Wingspan (13-16 feet): 1. Big Bertha  2, Lefty   3. Koie Ray   4. Vicky Ray   5. Rebekah Ray   6. Maluhia   7. Andrea Ray   8. Boo Boo Ray
Wingspan (10-12 feet): 9. Cara Ray   10. Mango   11. Margo Ray   12. Melainah (traveled 15 miles from Manta Village within 23 h),   13. Re-Nata Ray   14. Vallaray
Wingspan (6 - 9 feet):   15. Shirley Ray   16. Linda Ray   17. Lisa Rae  18. Delaney Ray   19. Emma Ray    20. small unidentified female


21 Males:
Wingspan (8-11 feet): 1. Curly Ray   2. Alexander Ray   3. Cousteau   4. Hook   5. Stevie Ray   6. Hans Ray   7. Bob'n'Ray    8. Timbuktu   9. Scar   10. Sugar Ray
Wingspan (5-7 feet): 11. Uhane Nui   12. Jay Ray   13.  Capt. Mike   14. Ralph''s Ray   15. Grayer   16. Blain Ray   17. Vinny Ray    18. Tim   19.  Doug Ray   20. Keniki    21. Ke'kai'malu


We are so blessed with these beautiful "Angels of the Sea".

Be safe out there - Happy 4th of July
Martina, Jim and Ryan

Statistics for 2011

Friday, May 18, 2012
Aloha, today we are excited to share the Manta Ray Statistics for 2011 with you.
Click here to open/download the accompanying 7-page pdf-file.

All statistics are based on personal observations and review of video footage of each specific night dive. We would like to thank all contributors who make these statistics as complete and accurate as possible.  A Special Mahalo to Luke, David and Katie from Kona Diving Company as well as Jonathan from Big Island Divers.


Comments:

•    The “TOP 3” Manta Rays of the year 2011 are:

     1. Koie Ray, she came to feed 208 times
     2. Kailey Ray, she was seen 183 times
     3. Blain Ray, he was seen 164 times


•    In 2011 we enjoyed 72 individual Manta Rays during the snorkel/dive activity at “Manta Heaven” and “Manta Village” (see Page 3).
In May 2011 we saw the highest number of different individuals at 51  (see Page 7).


•    Shirley Ray made it into the TOP 20, although she only started appearing in May of 2011. Check out Shirley’s video and see how beautiful it is to condition a new Manta Ray to be tolerant of the lights and bubbles. It would seem that as long as we don’t interfere with the Manta Rays feeding behavior, we will be able to condition more Mantas fairly easily.


•    We identified 8 new Manta Rays during the night activity in 2011:
Tim, Ripple, Ralphs’ Ray, Nick Ray (former Nicole Ray), Ke’kai’malu, J9, Independence Ray and Jana Ray.
All of them were small with a wingspan of 3-4 feet and are considered pups (see Page 3 and 4).


•    Jana Ray is definitely the stand-out of the afore-mentioned 8 Manta Rays. Jana Ray was identified as a pup in August of 2011 and made it to the No. 23 slot in only 3 months. We started seeing her at “Manta Village” in October and enjoyed observing her feed 36 times.


•    We want to point out something about Delaney Ray, Takahashi Ray and Spatter (see Page 3 and 4):

   - Delaney Ray was identified in August of 2008 and was not seen again until May of 2011. She was observed at “Manta Village” and “Manta Heaven” on a regular basis and was seen 43 times in 2011.

   -Takahashi Ray is also remarkable. He was named in June of 2008. We spotted him again after 3 years in March 2011. Since then, we have not seen him often, only intermittently.

   - Spatter was identified in 1992 (20 years ago!), but was not seen for many years until to our delight she re-appeared in April 2011 at Manta Village. She stayed around until July and came to feed 25 additional times.


•   Our 2011 statistics do not seem to support the belief that a full moon means no Manta Sightings (see Page 5).

•    Page 6 of our pdf file will show the overview of the ratio of possible charters and successful Manta Ray Sightings we had each month as well as the average number of individual Manta Rays.

  - “Manta Heaven” got skunked 39 times, “Manta Village” 34 times in 2011.

  - The probability of seeing at least one Manta Ray in 2011 was:
          Manta Heaven: 88 %         Manta Village: 88%
    Yes, this is correct – both dive sites had the same probability of an incredible 88%!

This is fantastic considering that we “work” with Marine Life and the ocean. Nowhere else in the world can you view these beautiful creatures in their natural environment on such a regular basis.

- The average number of individuals  at “Manta Heaven” was 7 and at “Manta Village” was 2 Manta Rays for 2011.


•   We kept track of occurrences when a Manta Ray swam the distance of approx. 14 miles between the dive site within a time frame of 24 – 96 hours (see Page 7).
16 Manta Rays went the distance and “Melainah Ray” is the “Traveler of the year 2011”. She moved up and down the coast almost every month; in January, May and August 3 times.
Koie Ray , Lefty and Vallaray also did their share of traversing their home range and using the night feeding areas to their advantage.


Can we conclude anything from these statistics?

The sheer number of Manta Rays observed, especially at “Manta Heaven”, seems to indicate that our resident population of Manta Rays is robust and healthy with the highest number of 35 individuals Manta Rays seen on May 12, 2011 (see page 5). We enjoyed Big Bertha bringing her pregnancy to term (see diary) in July 2011, and also discovered Teresa Ray's pregnancy in October 2011.

It is troubling, however, to see an increase in the number of injuries due to engagement with fishing tackle and injuries which suggest propeller strikes.
Kailey Ray in particular has had a rough year losing her cephalic fin as well as sporting various other injuries (see her before and after video here). You can also check on injuries and fishing hook accidents that Melainah Ray, Lisa Rae and Blain Ray had to deal with.


We hope you have enjoyed the presentation of this information. Once again, Mahalo to those that helped us compile this data. We are looking forward to doing this again for 2012.

With Aloha
Martina, Jim and Ryan

Teresa Ray, Jana Ray and Stats for January 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012
Teresa Ray:
This past month Teresa Ray joined the dinner party on several nights at Manta Village and Manta Heaven, and oh man, she is sooo big.
Thru our observations of pregnant Manta Rays esp. Big Bertha last year, we know that the female Manta Ray who is about to deliver, not only has a big belly, but their back also bulges out a lot. We created a short movie about Teresa Ray, when we saw her this past month (February 27). We are pretty confident when we see her the next time she will have a flat belly again and hopefully she gave birth to a healthy pup. We will keep you posted.

NEWS FLASH: March 11, 2012 (12 h after I posted this blog!): Teresa Ray is not pregnant anymore! YEAH. She came to Manta Heaven with a flat belly tonight and enjoyed a wonderful meal with 11 other ones. The pup was not seen, but this can change soon.




Jana Ray:
Jana Ray, our youngest “trained” Manta Ray at Manta Village recently came to the dive site with a deep cut in her cephalic fin. It must have happened between February 3 and 5, because she was fine on the 3rd. She is feeding okay, but it is obvious that she is in pain.

Jana Ray Injury 02-12Jana Ray Injury 02-12Jana Ray Injury 02-12
Jana Ray Injury 02-12Jana Ray Injury 02-12Jana Ray Injury 02-12


If that wasn’t enough, Jana Ray came to the site 9 days later (February 14) and she had caught more fishing line around her cephalic fin. Amanda Ault , one of our dedicated swim guides from Big Island Divers was there and here is her report:.

During the Manta Ray Dive at the Sheraton site this evening I noticed that Jana, one of our young female mantas, had some fishing line attached to her right cephalic fin. The monofilament line was hooked around the base of her fin and tangled in a small bundle along the underside of her body. It also had a small red/white fishing bobber attached to it which was trailing about a foot and a half behind her right wing.
After watching her circle under us for a while I felt compelled to try to remove at least the fishing bobber. I borrowed a dive knife from my captain and waited for a good moment to attempt the removal. Jana is a speedy little manta, so I was a bit nervous about the timing because I certainly didn't want to cause her any further harm with my efforts to help. After about 10 minutes, she settled in to a feeding circle about 3 feet under my float and it seemed like as good of a moment as ever to try for the line. I dove down, grabbing the bobber in one hand and cutting with the other. Thankfully the line cut easily and I didn't feel any tug when I pulled the bobber and some of the line away. There was still some line attached, so hopefully it will come free, or someone else will have a chance to remove it.
Cheers,  Amanda (Big Island Divers snorkel guide)


We can add to Amanda’s report that Jim saw Jana Ray several times since then and she doesn’t have anymore line on her. She seems to be adjusting and getting better every day. We will keep you posted on the healing process of her cephalic fin.



Statistics for January 2012:
We had mentioned in an earlier post that January 2012 was an awesome month for Manta sightings especially considering the ocean conditions were in our favor almost every night.

Here is a quick overview of the numbers we saw in January including the “travelers” that frequented both sites and the three Manta Rays we have seen the most:
(Check here to download the complete pdf-file).





Some comments about these statistics:

-    12 (!) Manta Rays (Big Bertha, Delaney, Kapono, Koie Ray, Lefty, Lightning, Margo, Melainah, Re-Nata, Reece, Teresa and Vallaray) were seen at both locations in January 2012 and they all changed sites within 24-96 h).
That’s incredible and also shows that those Manta Rays definitely know where the dinner table is set every night and are taking advantage of it.

-    The highest number of Manta Rays at Manta Heaven was 27 individual Manta Rays
The highest number of Mantas seen at Manta Village was 8, and this happened 4 times !

-    Koie Ray, Lightning, Margo, Melainah and Re-Nata were at Manta Heaven on January 8. Within 48 h they all made it to Manta Village, and Koie Ray and Lightning moved back north within 24 h. Impressive !

-    Lefty, Vicky Ray and Grayer are our TOP 3 for January 2012.
Grayer was seen 23x
Vicky Ray  24 x and
Lefty scored the TOP POSITION with 25 sightings of possible 31 nights.



TOP 15 Manta Rays for 2011
Our next blog post will reveal our Top 15 Manta Rays seen in 2011.
Can you guess who is in the TOP 15 ?
Let me know which Manta Ray you think has come to the Manta Ray Ballet the most last year?
Just leave a comment in the comment section or send us an email:   aloha@mantarayshawaii.com

 



With Aloha
Martina, Jim and Ryan

Oops, Nicole Ray is Nick Ray !

Saturday, February 11, 2012
Aloha, on July 18, 2011 we identified a new baby Manta Ray at Manta Village. We were sure that it is a girl and we named her "Nicole Ray" after our dear friend Nicole Schmaus from Switzerland. Well, today we have to admit that we made a mistake LOL. On January 26 this Manta Ray was seen again at Manta Village, still very shy, but it came close enough that we could see little claspers !! So, we need to rename Nicole Ray to Nick Ray today.

  



Nick Ray will be named after Nick Watson, son of Capt. Jeff Watson. Nick works as a swim guide several nights a week and is getting very good at identifying our Manta Rays.

This has happened to us once before in 2008. We were sure that we identified a new female Manta Ray and we called it Lisa Rae. But just a few days later we had to rename the Manta Ray to Capt. Mike. The claspers on young males are very small.

Many guests have asked if Nick Ray (Nicole Ray) is Big Bertha's little pup. We cannot be sure about this, because several females were pregnant last spring. But we are sure about this:
- Big Bertha gave birth in a two week window between June 30 and July 15, 2011 (check out her pregnancy diary here)
- Nick Ray was identified on July 18, 2011 with a wingspan of 3-4 feet..
- Big Bertha was pregnant in 2006 as well and we identified Vinny Ray on July 31, 2006.

This is a hypothesis, but check out the following comparison between Big Bertha's markings, Nick Ray and Vinny Ray. We think there are definite similarities.







More info next week. Keep checking back for news and updates...


With Aloha
Martina, Jim and Ryan

January 2012 was awesome!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Aloha, this was one of the best January's we have experienced in regards to weather conditions, Manta counts and special appearances at "Manta Heaven".

We usually have to cancel charters during the winter months, but this January we were out almost every night. And the Manta Rays were doing the same. On both locations we had sightings every night - we didn't get skunked! That is awesome!

It is almost too good to be true, but we have had many nights with Bottlenose Dolphins sightings at "Manta Heaven".
Enjoy this short video of these special guest appearances we enjoyed during the activity:  OMG - it was sooo exciting!





We are working on the statistics for January. We will publish them sometime next week.
We are also analyzing the stats for 2011 in regards to which Manta Ray showed up the most etc. Check back soon for more info....


With Aloha
Martina, Jim and Ryan

Teresa Ray (Update January 2011)

Friday, January 27, 2012
Hi and Happy New Year to all Manta Enthusiasts.

Back in November we reported that Teresa Ray is pregnant.
Here are two updated images of her pregnant belly from January 18, 2012.





We think she has 2 or 3 more months to go before a new Manta pup is born. We will keep you updated.

With Aloha
Martina, Jim and Ryan

News from the Manta Rays (December 2011)

Monday, January 23, 2012
Aloha, the first half of the month of December was slow for Manta Ray sightings. Several nights we had only fly- bys or late shows. Numbers began to pick up though during the month: Blain Ray was seen 18 times and Koie Ray and Kailey Ray are sharing the "Manta of the Month" with 22 sightings. The following numbers will give you an overview of the numbers of Mantas we saw at the airport location and at the Sheraton.



The complete statistics for December can be found here:

The Manta Dive/Snorkel is extremely popular today and with the large influx of Holiday travelers we had many participants joining the activity. There were several nights in a row with 100+ people in the water and the Mantas gave a great show. Some guests were wondering if this would be detrimental to the Manta Rays: We can assure you and this is based on thousands of hours we have spent with the Manta Rays at the dive sites that the Mantas behavior has not changed over the years and they care less how many people view them as long as everyone obeys the rules and are quiet and calm observers respecting their environment. We actually have been able to condition more Manta Rays over the years.
This being said, we do believe that we are coming to a point where we have reached the limit of how many people can be organized at night under water and also on the surface during the 45-60 in-water activity.

We had not seen Reece Ray since October 2010, so we are really excited that she made 4 appearances this month. On December 19th and 24th she joined the "dinner table" at Manta Heaven, then she moved south to share "dinner" at Manta Village on the 27th and 28th. So happy to have her still around.

"Ralph’s Ray" found his way North from Manta Village to Manta Heaven this month. He stayed in the outskirts at Manta Heaven and enjoyed the plentiful plankton. It is always wonderful to see a real youngster among the experienced Manta Rays.



With Aloha
Martina, Ryan and Jim

Nakeli Ray (Update Nov. 16-30, 2011)

Sunday, December 04, 2011
Aloha, This month of November it seems as if things in the manta world have “flipped upside down.”  We usually encounter more mantas and stronger numbers at "Manta Heaven" (airport location) and lower numbers at Manta Village. This month has been the opposite.
There has not been much plankton in the cove at Manta Heaven and mostly we have been skunked or one or two Mantas showed up. We had Manta sightings at Manta Village every night this month.
Big Bertha, Lefty, Teresa Ray and Koie Ray made regular appearance at the southern location. They were joined by Kailey Ray, Margo Ray, Melainah Ray, Mac Ray and Jana Ray. The plankton has been consistent there and it seems as the mantas that usually frequent the airport location are just following the food.

We are so blessed that we have two well established feeding areas here on the Kona Coast. If one dive site has no Manta Rays, we have a back-up plan and we can explore the other site. We are still able to show our customers the beauty and grace of these magnificent animals.

Kailey Ray is our gold metal manta this month.  She was at the dive site 24 times of possible 30. Jana Ray, the newest conditioned Manta Ray at Manta Village (see older posts) was seen 20 times in November.
Melainah Ray is our # 3. She was seen 13 times, and this was split between both feeding areas.
Check out the statistics here!

On November 2, 2011 Ryan saw a beautiful pelagic female Manta Ray during the day. It is the first time we ever seen this manta, so the "rule " in Kona is that we have the naming rights :)
We will name this Manta Ray "Nakeli Ray", which is "Natalie" in Hawaiian. Her namesake is Natalie Munsterman, wife of dive master David from Kona Diving Company.
Nakeli Ray is easy to identify, because she doesn't have a tail. She is approx. 18-20 feet wide. WOW!

 





We wish every one a "Happy Holiday" season.
Martina, Ryan and Jim

News from the Mantas (Nov. 1 - 15, 2011)

Monday, November 28, 2011
Aloha, the first part of November we did not have much plankton at "Manta Heaven" which resulted in five nights of being skunked. But Shirley Ray saved us on four nights when she was the only Manta Ray to check on the "buffet".

We always have to remember that this experience is not about Manta Rays meeting "humans"; it is definitely all about food. The Manta Rays care less who is attached to the lights, but they do care about the food in front of the lights. This being said, when we have no plankton at the established manta sites, then the Manta Rays have no reason to come.

"Manta Village", on the other hand, has had consistent manta sightings. Most nights have had 2 or 3 which is an average for this site. We are always happy when 1 Manta Ray shows up and Kailey Ray has come to feed every night so far.

Our youngster Jana Ray has joined the "dinner table" as a regular now and has really “opened up” to the snorkelers. She was first identified last August, but was not seen again until October. She used to stay on the outskirts and was a very shy girl. This month all that has changed and within 2 week she is now comfortable with real close-ups to the snorkelers; and we mean sometimes just inches away. This is awesome.

 




Here is a quick overview of the numbers we have seen this month so far:





There has also been many manta sightings during the daytime in current lines. Our friend and boat operator Ron Gittins of Coral Reef Snorkel Adventures identified a beautiful pelagic Manta Ray. He named it "Rami Ray", which pronounces: "ray me ray".

 

Both images were taken by Jerry Busheff.


With Aloha
Martina, Ryan and Jim

Teresa Ray is pregnant (October 16 - 31)

Monday, November 14, 2011
Aloha, we are excited to announce that we identified two new Manta Ray pups this month.  The first one was seen by Martina on October 15, 2011. We named him Ke’kai’malu which means “Peaceful Ocean”.  
We have another young boy who was identified on October 22, 2011 at Manta Village.  His name is Ralph’s Ray.   He is named after Ralph Chamberlin, who is a longtime supporter of the Manta Rays and a good family friend.






We also have a new baby manta on the way!! Teresa Ray showed up at Manta Village on October 27, 2011 and appears to be pregnant.

 




The second half of October was very good for manta sightings.  Both locations did not get skunked and our record night was 20 mantas on October 18 at Manta Heaven.
 Check out our Statistics page for detailed info...



;
Kailey Ray is the gold medal manta for this month she was seen 22 times.  She is often joined now by Jana Ray, Mac Ray and Ralph’s Ray at Manta Village.


Koie Ray is our Silver medal Manta.  She was seen 21 times this month.  


Blain Ray, Grayer, and Shirley tie for the Bronze coming in 19 times for dinner.




With Aloha
Martina, Ryan and Jim