One of the highlights of the trip so far has been
the opportunity to swim with manta rays, which we did in a bay on the west side
of Tohuata. Here is a ray swimming past:
In the shot above you can see that the ray is on
the surface, one of his wingtips actually breaking out, and you can see his gill
flaps. Manta rays are filter feeders - they have no teeth and swim with their
mouths wide open filtering plankton and small fish using their modified gills.
They are completely harmless to humans.
These guys (there were seven of them, about 2-3m
across) are probably Manta alfredi, the Reef Manta, which grows to a
wingspan of 5.5m. That's big. The Ocean Manta (very difficult to tell
apart, the species have only recently been separated scientifically using DNA)
is even bigger, growing to at least 7m and very probably more!
These rays were completely careless of our
presence, coming close enough to touch but never colliding with us. Magical. We
have some fabulous video which I'll try to load onto YouTube (when I can work