Manta Rays in Kona Hawaii

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

October 1 - 15, 2011 Update

Monday, October 24, 2011
Aloha from Kona, This month of October started off slow for manta sightings. The numbers have increased over the last week at Manta Heaven with a high of 12 individual Manta Rays identified. We were "skunked" twice at each dive site.
Here is an overview of the #'s seen at Manta Heaven and Manta Village in the first two weeks of October:

We are happy to report that Mac Ray found his way back to Manta Village on October 2. In addition the newly identified Jana Ray made a short appearance on October 1, 2011. They are still pretty shy but it is exciting to see them.  Both nights they were joined by Kailey Ray.

We would like to welcome a new manta boy to our family: Ke'kai'malu, which means "The peaceful ocean".  
We believe it is the perfect name for a Manta Ray, because it represents peacefulness, grace and beauty by just being itself.

Martina spotted this young male on October 15, 2011at Manta Heaven. The idea for his name came from Andrew Osoro. Thanks, Andrew!

With Aloha
Martina, Ryan and Jim

Update for September 16-30, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Exciting News from Manta Village: A young male Manta Ray called "Mac Ray" made his way to Keauhou. Mac Ray was identified in Kealakekua last December. On September 30 we spotted him on the outskirts of the dive site. He is shy and not so sure about the bubbles and lights, but he got a good meal just circling the divers.


Shirley Ray has turned into a quite friendly manta.  She has had a couple of nights where it was just her at Manta Heaven.  She put on a lovely show for everyone.  It is nice to see that new mantas are learning that the dive sites can be a good source for food.  It also increases our probability for seeing and observing these creatures in their natural environment.

Some “unusual”, or maybe its “usual”, behavior was seen at Manta Heaven this month.
We used to think that mating season was March, April, May and June. This was the time period that we saw mating trains and/ or mating mantas.  This timing also corresponded with sightings of small new manta babies.
On September 17, 2011 Andrea Ray arrived at Manta Heaven with a slew of boys following her.  This mating behavior has caused some of us to re-think our views on Manta Ray Mating season.  

The highest number of Manta Ray sightings occured on September 13 at Manta Heaven with 25 individuals identified. The highest number was 8 Mantas at Manta Village on September 3.
Check out the statistics for September 2011.

We like to point out the "Best of 3 in attendance".
The Gold Medal for the “Best attendance” goes to Grayer with 19x appearances this month.
Closely followed by Koie Ray (18x) which includes her sightings at Manta Village and Manta Heaven. She is a "traveller". 3rd place is shared by Blain Ray and Vallaray, who entertained the folks 18x this month.
Vallaray split her time between Manta Village (4x) and Manta Heaven (13x) and she completed her swimming mostly within 48 hours. Manta Heaven and Manta Village are about 16 miles apart. 

With Aloha
Martina, Ryan and Jim