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!
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.
Good News from Lisa Rae: The little female had a hook embedded on the top part of her mouth back in June. Please check out the images or read the full story here:
On September 9th Lisa Rae joined us again at Manta Heaven and the hook was gone! Hooray for hooks that rust!
The first part of September has been pretty consistent with Manta Sightings at both dive sites.
On September 6, 2011 we had three Manta Rays at Manta Village: Salem Ray, Kailey Ray and Vallaray. Salem and Kailey just did a few “fly-bys”, because the plankton never really got thick enough for the Mantas to feed, but to our surprise Vallaray decided to still come close to the float with the lights and barrel-roll in front of the guests. It almost appeared as if she was saying “Hey guys, I’m here...here’s your manta show, take your pictures... check me out before I leave for greener pastures.”
And so Vallaray did: Two nights later we enjoyed her presence at Manta Heaven (16 miles to the north of Manta Village), where the plankton was abundant.
Blain and Grayer are currently tied for most sightings this month. We have had a few nights so far with 20+ mantas at Manta Heaven. Hopefully the rest of the month is as good as the first!
Big Bertha, Delaney, Koie Ray, Lefty, Melainah Ray, and Vallaray have all been BIG travelers this month. These six mantas changed between Manta Heaven and Manta Village several times, and this within 24, 48 or 72 hours. Big Bertha made the 16 mile trek twice in 72 hours. Check out the statistics page to see all the “traveling” from site to site that was done this month.
Delaney Ray is coming more frequently and is getting bolder around the bubbles. She was first identified in 2008 at Manta Heaven and then started to visit more frequently in May 2011.
It is very interesting to follow her moving between Manta Village on Friday (08/26), Manta Heaven on Saturday (08/28), and then back at Manta Village on Wednesday (08/31).
Kailey is healing beautifully. She seems fully recovered after losing her cephalic fin and behaves around the bubbles and lights as if nothing had happened. She is our # 2 Manta Ray for most sightings (14x) for the month of August.
Koie Ray is our # 1 Manta Ray this month with most sightings (15x) during the Manta Ray Experience. She enjoyed dinner at both locations.
Our # 3 is Melainah Ray (13x).
Melainah Ray was injured by fishing line this past February. Check out the following pictures and see how she recovered from it.
In August the Manta Sightings at Manta Heaven have been steady so far. There have not been high numbers but a few Mantas almost always showed up at the "dinner table". The regulars: Koie, Melainah, Vicky Ray and Blain.
Please remember: This is a "Mother Nature" Experience and one Manta Ray makes a show!
On the other hand Manta Village has been a virtual ghost town with very sporadic sightings. Kailey Ray has shown up a few times and seems to be recovering well from her injury and losing the left cephalic fin (check out our blog below (July 1-15, 2011)).
A common question from our guests: “Do the Manta Rays eat the fish in mid-water?”
The answer is, "No", they do not eat the fish, called Hawaiian Flagtails in mid-water. Manta Rays only feed on plankton.
We created a video about the Manta Rays diet. Check it out here....
Big Bertha is NOT PREGNANT!!!! She gave birth to a Manta Ray pup.
We do not know the exact date she gave birth, but we know for sure that she was still pregnant on June 30. The next time we enjoyed her presence at Manta Heaven was on July 15, so it happened in those two weeks.
We have seen a couple of baby mantas who have similar spot patterns to her. One of the pups we named Nicole Ray, who was identified by Jim on July 18th at Manta Village. And the other, who has not been named yet, was identified on July 25th at Manta Heaven. Congratulations Big Bertha!!!
Check out the final chapter of her pregnancy diary...
Blain Ray came into the manta site on July 27 with line caught around his cephalic fin. Martina was able to remove it, however Blain Ray seemed to be a little shaken by the whole experience. He did not return to feed that night.
Kegan had his own little “break-through” night on July 29th. He showed
up very late into the dive and was the only Manta Ray until Cara Ray, Uhane Nui and Shirley Ray joined him. But until then he got comfortable giving everyone
a spectacular show to feed on the abundant plankton.
More news later
Ryan, Martina & Jim
The first half of July has been very consistent at Manta Heaven but not so consistent at Manta Village. Grayer and Shirley Ray have been at Manta Heaven almost every night so far.
The big news right now is Kailey Ray.
The last time we saw her at Manta Village was May 31, 2011. She showed up on July 14th very battered and missing her left cephalic fin. This little manta has been through a lot! She got tossed on the rocks two winters ago in a big swell. She has also had several run ins with fishing hooks and lines. We are not sure what happened to her this time but she looks like she will make it.
The second half of June has been much better for Manta Ray sightings!!
Perhaps the biggest story for us here is that Shirley Ray has stepped out of her shell and is now VERY comfortable with feeding over, around, and even on divers. She was the only manta on June 28th and was doing her usual "skirt around the shadows" behavior. Martina and Dive Master Luke Mason noticed that she had some line with a leader caught on her wing. Luke gently removed the line and went back to his divers. Eventually Shirley Ray decided that being close to the divers wasn't all that scary.
In Luke’s words “She let me swim up to her though and remove a fishing line and buoy from her wing tip. Then at minute 45 she finally swam right over my head, realized it was quite pain-free and productive and then just went berserk flying and somersaulting all over us. Yay Shirley, thank you and welcome.”
We have had an old friend come back from the past, Spatter:
Spatter used to be a “regular” at Manta Village back in the 90’s. She has not been seen at the Manta Night Dive for many years. She hung around Manta Village quite a bit since April, but this month we saw her 12 times. She tied for the best night dive attendance in June. Even with the long break from the dive site, she still has not forgotten that people bring lights and lights bring food. She has given many snorkelers a “close encounter”.
Lefty, Sugar Ray, Vicky Ray and Melainah Ray have moved to both sites a couple of times towards the end of the month. Check out our “Statistics” page for more details.
On June 26th Boo Boo Ray came to Manta Heaven. We have only seen Boo Boo a handful of times since she was first identified in 2006. On Sunday, the 26th, she was a beautiful grown-up girl with probably 10 feet wing span. She is not the cute little manta we remembered.
Three new Mantas were welcomed into our "Ohana" = Family this month. "Independence Ray" and two others that have not been named yet.
Jim identified Independence Ray on June 28th. Capt. Mike Mayne suggested we name him Independence Ray for the 4th of July. Independence Ray was very shy and stayed on the bottom away from the snorkelers while feeding.
As of June 30th Big Bertha is still pregnant. But she looks like she is about to deliver!
Aloha everyone, May was a good month for manta sightings, but June has been very inconsistent.
In the first week of June, we got "skunked" almost every night. On June 2nd, 3rd and 5th, no mantas were sighted at both the northern and southern locations. On the 1st and 4th of June we had only a few "fly-bys".
It is very unusual that both locations are deserted. The reason for this seemed to be a lack of plankton.
We did see Bertha during this time period and she seems to still be pregnant.
We updated her "diary".
Check back for more news
Martina, Jim & Ryan