FAQ's about Manta Rays of Hawaii

Wxplore Manta Rays


This is a list of questions we are most frequently asked during our presentations and before the activity starts.


1. How long do Manta Rays live?

No one knows for sure, but estimates of 50 to 100 years have been made.
Lefty” has been seen since 1979. According to Captain Steve Myklebust, Lefty was about 8 feet wide when he first saw her.



2. What are the Manta Rays natural predators?

Mainly large sharks, but in Hawaii the Manta Rays have adapted to the habitat by staying within 3 miles of the shoreline thereby, to some extent, limiting their exposure to predators (like deep water sharks e.g. Tiger Sharks, Hammerheads). Their unmatched maneuverability and speed makes them hard to prey on. We have seen Manta Rays with evidence of what appears to be a shark attack, but we also know that they recover from those injuries.



3. Can we touch the Manta Rays?

No, please.
Touching removes a protective, slime coating from the Manta Rays skin. They also do not seem to “like” being touched. It could cause them to leave the area and suddenly the show is over. The "No-Touch" guideline has been accepted by all tour operators and everyone briefs the participants accordingly.



4. Are Manta Rays bothered by flash photography?

No, for the most part Manta Rays don’t seem to be bothered by flashes or lights.

Explore Manta Rays


5. Where are Manta Rays during daylight hours?

Manta Rays travel up-and down the coastline. They also use cleaning stations over the coral reef, where small fish clean them of parasites and dead tissue. Due to their energy requirements, we believe they feed any time plankton is present; day or night.


6. Are Manta Rays migratory?

Manta Rays don't seem to be migratory, but we don't see all identified Manta Rays year around. There is the possibility that they migrate and we are unaware of their movements.


7. What is a Manta Rays’ offspring called and how many offspring do they produce?

Manta Ray offspring are called “pups”. As far as we know, they give birth to one pup per gestation period, but few births have actually been seen or documented.


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8. Wasn’t Steve Irwin killed by a Manta Ray?

No, Steve Irwin was killed by a Sting Ray. It is the same "family" of rays, but a much different creature; both in the way they feed and respond to threats. Manta Rays are filter-feeders, while Sting Rays forage for mollusks.



9. Are Manta Rays held in captivity anywhere?

  1. The “Atlantis” Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas
  2. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Okinawa, Japan
  3. Georgia Aquarium in Georgia, Atlanta, USA



10. Can Manta Rays see us?

Yes, we know that they can see us, but we are not sure how well. Their pupils don’t seem to be as sensitive as ours are and their irises are always brown. Manta Rays also have specialized nerve cells on their skin giving them the ability to sense electrical fields and they use this as a sensory ability in addition to sight.



11. Do Manta Rays sleep?

No, at least not as we think of it. They are a creature of perpetual motion; always swimming or gliding through the ocean to keep the water flowing through and across their gills for survival.



12. Should we be concerned about sharks or other dangerous marine life?

No. While we have occasionally seen small White Tip Reef Sharks in the area, they seem uninterested and frightened of us. They are "looking" for crabs, lobster, eels and octopus to eat. We have never seen a big, deep water shark during the Manta Ray Experience.



13. What is the average water temperature in Kona, Hawaii?

76°F to 81°F    -     24°C to 28°C

Guests are always surprised at how warm the water feels. In addition, most boat operators provide a wetsuit for the activity.


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Explore Manta Rays


14. Does the Lunar Phase seem to affect the Manta Ray Sightings?

No, we used to think so, but the Manta Rays have proved us wrong by giving us great shows on clear sky and full moon nights.

To a large degree, Manta Rays are a scientific enigma. There are likely to be many variables in the equation of Manta Sightings that we know nothing about.


15. Do Manta Rays school?

Manta Rays are social, but don’t seem to be a schooling fish.



16. How can you tell if they are female or male?

On the underside of the Manta Ray where the tail attaches: if claspers are seen, it is a male; no claspers, it is a female. Shortly after birth and for quite some time, the males are mistaken for females, because their claspers are small.

Manta Ray MaleManta Ray Female










17. How big can Manta Rays be?

In Hawaiian waters, generally from 3 to 12 feet (wing tip to wing tip).



18. What makes the Kona Coast this special place on earth to experience Manta Rays?

The simple fact that the Manta Rays are here, seem to be healthy and can be seen 90 % of the time we go out to experience them. Other than an aquarium, no other place in the world has this kind of accessibility.
As long as we continue to make the Manta Ray Snorkel and Dive Experience a "win - win" situation (food for them and a show for us) and by obeying the simple guidelines, we will be able to enjoy them for many more years to come.


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