Manta rays are graceful creatures stemming from the ray family. Presently, two valid species are recognised; the gigantean ocean manta ray (Manta birostris), and the coastal manta ray (Manta alfredi), which reportedly frequents along the waters of Kuramathi. The coastal manta ray may not be as massive as its ocean counterpart, but it is still contended as an impressive animal that can reach a wingspan of 5.5 metres!
The peak season for Manta sightings at Kuramathi falls into the North-East monsoon (during November – April) with a sharp rise in abundance between November and January. During this year, surprisingly enough, manta ray activity has been observed near Kuramathi and Rasdhoo as early as in July.
When compared to the eye-catching whale sharks, which are best witnessed whilst snorkelling, manta rays can be equally well encountered by snorkellers or SCUBA divers. With a fluke, you might be able to see them without getting wet, as these animals can often be seen swimming just below the water surface, meaning you can watch them from the boat or off the jetty.
The appropriate behaviour when being in the water with manta rays is to show some respect to these magnificent animals! Manta rays may be large marine animals, but the slightest disturbance may drive them away. Do not make any hasty movements, do not chase after the mantas, and do not attempt to touch them! If you stay calm, the mantas may stay around for a while, so you have plenty of time to study their fascinating behaviour and enjoy their glorious beauty!