It is Fab Photo Friday! On Day 4, the Ray of Hope Expedition caught up with Mantas! ROHE’s main goal is always to identify as many manta rays as possible, and records were broken on this trip! Takat Makkasar is a known Manta hangout, so day 4 was mostly spent on this reef. When we were not diving it, we snorkeled it. There were Reef Mantas everywhere. As a matter of interest, only Reef Mantas, or Manta Alfredi, live in Komodo. These mantas are a little smaller than the Giant Manta, or Manta Biostris, and instead of traveling the oceans, Reef Mantas tend to stay within a certain “home” area. Reef Mantas can grow to be 12 feet in wing span, while the Giants can be over 20 feet in wing span. This was my very first time to see Reef Mantas, and I love them every bit as much as the Giants I have seen all over the world.
It is so interesting to watch mantas being cleaned. Many pelagics require cleaning (as do many fish) in order to clean wounds, and remove parasites. Butterfly fish are avid cleaners, and in some areas, Angel Fish join in. The butterflies nibble parasites, wounds, and other detritus from the ray.
The number of Manta IDs was incredible! Komodo National Park yielded 80 individual identifications on one day, a record breaker! Andrea was thrilled with the productivity of the trip…and we had a wonderful time along the way. What could be better than citizen science and fun?