It is already known that the biodiversity of Raja Ampat is out of this world with over 1,300 species of coral fish inhabiting the area. If that’s not enough to impress you, they also have 600 species of hard coral, which is 75% of the entire world! There is one species of fish that stands out particularly for its dance ritual: the manta rays.
These giant beauties are mesmerizing to watch due to its size which can reach a tip-to-tip width of over 7 meters! It’s longer than the height of a two-story building! There are several types of manta rays that are often seen in Raja Ampat: Mobula Alfredi (reef manta), Mobula Birostris (ocean manta) and Mobula eregoodootenkee (pygmy devil). The largest is the ocean manta and the smallest is the pygmy devil.
The reason why the biodiversity in Raja Ampat is mind blowing is mainly due to the conservation effort put in place by the local government and also by the local communities of the region who have established 20 marine protected areas in West Papua. In these areas the fish get tired and actually increase in population! There are currently around 1500 manta rays on the reef and this number continues to grow every year. This number is second only to the Maldives.
Reef manta rays have been known to congregate in large numbers and this is especially true in Raja Ampat. There has been a sighting of up to 112 reef manta rays in one spot during a feeding aggregation. I’m more mantic in one spot than the number of people who attended my last 10 birthday parties combined!
Here is our video of close encounters with the various manta rays. If you notice a wall of small fish surrounding us, they are anchovies that flock to look big and (fail) to scare off predators. You will also see one of the manta rays hanging out with us near a cleaning station. If you come to Raja Ampat, it is almost impossible to miss them.
Liveaboard is one of the preferred alternatives to explore Raja Ampat. You can check out our travel package here and plan your next vacation to the Ultimate Paradise.
Reference: Setyawan et al. to the. 2020. “Natural history of manta rays in the seascape of Bird’s Head, Indonesia, with an analysis of the demographics and spatial ecology of Mobula alfredi (Elasmobranchii: Mobulidae).” Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation Volume 30. (https://bit.ly/2WxLDKP).
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