Manta Rays in Kona Hawaii

News from the Manta Rays (August 1 - 15)

Monday, August 29, 2011
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....

With Aloha,
Ryan, Martina & Jim
Kona, Hawaii

Big Bertha is not pregnant anymore! (July 16-31,2011)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011
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
Kona, Hawaii

Kailey Ray lost her cephalic fin (July 1-15, 2011)

Monday, August 22, 2011
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.

Update for June 16 - June 30, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011
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!

With Aloha,
Ryan, Martina & Jim
Kona, Hawaii

Update June 1 - June 15, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011
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
Kona, Hawaii

Update May 16 - 31, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011
We have some “special” sightings at Manta Heaven during this time period. We spotted “Delaney Ray” on 5/27. This was the first appearance since this female manta was identified in 2008.



We also saw Takahashi Ray on 5/18. This was the third time we have seen him this year (3/30,4/15). We were pleased to see him after not seeing him for three years.

Until next time...
Martina, Jim & Ryan
Kona, Hawaii

Update May 1 – 15 with 2011 Record Night

Saturday, June 25, 2011
We had a record 35 Manta Rays at Manta Heaven on May 12, 2011. This is a RECORD NIGHT for 2011 !!!

Here is the list of Manta Rays we saw:
1. Bertha, 2. Lefty, 3. Koie, 4. Vicky, 5. Teresa, 6. Abigail, 7. Rebekah, 8. Vall-a-Ray, 9. Melainah, 10. Lisa Rae, 11. Who, 12. "W", 13. Cara, 14. Weniki, 15. Shirley, 16. Andrea, 17. Maluhia

18. Timbuktu, 19. Sugar, 20. Vinny, 21. Blain, 22. Mike, 23. Uhane Nui, 24. Hayden, 25. Grayer, 26. Bob, 27. Alexander, 28. Kegan, 29. Ho Ray, 30. Curly, 31. Stevie, 32. Lightning, 33. Hook, 34. Miles and 35. Scar

It was incredible, esp. that we spotted “W Ray” on two different nights (5/11 & 5/12), after a long absence.

“Bertha” is still pregnant, but “Who Ray” appears to have already given birth. A crewmember on Hula Kai mentioned she had seen a very small ray in Keauhou Bay numerous times, but was unable to see the ventral side so and ID was not possible. Perhaps this is “Who Ray’s” pup.

Hula Kai was in dry dock, so we did not collect data on the southern site during this time period. 

Martina, Jim & Ryan
Kona, Hawaii

News from the Manta Rays (April 21 - 30)

Saturday, April 30, 2011
This week we discovered that two more Manta Rays are pregnant.

On Tuesday (April 26, 2011) Andre-a-Ray visited the Northern Dive site and to our surprise: she is pregnant!

So far, we have seen Big Bertha and Who Ray pregnant, now Andre-a-Ray is joining the "club".

To make things even more exciting, we can report that Abigail is even further along in her pregnancy.
She was feeding in the shallows on abundant plankton with 18 other Manta Rays on Friday April 30, 2011.

Check out these images:



Abigail seems to be the furthest along.  She is "showing" more than the other pregnant females.

We keep you posted.
Martina, Jim & Ryan
Kona, Hawaii

News from the Manta Rays (April 11 - 20)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
This week the Manta Sightings were consistent at the Southern Dive Site, “Manta Village”, but the plankton was pretty much non-existent at the Northern Site, “Manta Heaven” the past few nights. This means that the Manta Rays typically do not show up or stay.
If the plankton is not abundant, the Manta Rays leave the area until it is.

This usually prompts two common questions from our guests:

1.   Why is plankton in the area or why isn’t it?
Ocean currents bring plankton to the area. If the ocean currents are “unfavorable”, the plankton doesn’t form in sufficient concentration to prompt Manta Ray feeding behavior.

2.   Do you bring food for the Manta Rays?
No, we don’t bring plankton to the ocean; this is not practical. It would be like trying to bring rain drops to a rain storm.

On another note, Big Bertha is pregnant and we project she will deliver in June of 2011. Check out her diary here.

Ryan also filmed Big Bertha during the daylight hours this week (April 17, 2011), and although Bertha is pregnant, it doesn’t seem to stop the “males” from pursuing her.
Here is Ryan’s description:
Bertha was heading towards a cleaning station while Sugar Ray was heading away from it.
When Big Bertha and Sugar Ray were about 20 feet from each other, Sugar Ray made a U-turn and began to follow Bertha closely. It seems that although she is pregnant, male Manta Rays are nevertheless drawn to her.  Sugar Ray tried to “engage” her a couple of times, but soon lost interest.
The courtship behavior was not as aggressive as we have seen it in the past.

Here is short video about Big Bertha being followed by Sugar Ray.

Until next week with more news
Jim, Martina & Ryan

News from the Manta Rays (April 1 - 10)

Monday, April 11, 2011
Aloha, this was an exciting week besides launching the new website!

At the Northern Site we had good sightings every night; especially Wednesday night (April 6, 2011) with 11 individuals. The most exciting part of that night was seeing the female “Who Ray” being pursued by two males Bob’n’Ray and Curly Ray. These three Manta Rays didn’t stay to feed, but we can report that Who Ray seems very pregnant.  The same night we saw Jay Ray. He stayed on the outside, although he has been close to divers and bubbles before. He looked traumatized. His back (dorsal side) had scratches and marks. It looked like he got tossed in the surf against rocks. The injuries appear superficial.

The Southern Site had Manta Rays every night except Thursday night. Several nights in a row the females Big Bertha, Isabel and Teresa Ray were chased by “the boys” while they were feeding. It was a spectacular show. We were excited to see the female “Spatter” down south after a long absence!

There were many happy customers this week with everyone agreeing that it was an “Experience of a Lifetime”.

We also received feedback from our guests and comments to our blog. We love to hear from you a well.
Until then, with Aloha
James & Martina Wing
& Ryan Leinbach