The Raja Ampat Manta Rays, types and facts

Manta rays are often spotted in the waters of Raja Ampat, a region in Indonesia known for its rich marine biodiversity. Indeed, Raja Ampat has some of the best manta dives in the world, and our liveaboard will take you there for your next snorkeling or diving adventure. 

Amazing Manta Rays

Once in your life you need to experience the joy of diving and snorkeling with these magnificent creatures. Manta rays captivate divers' attention because they glide through the water so beautifully and majestically, whether playing in the surf or relaxing at a cleaning station. 

For you to learn more about these stunning and enigmatic creature, here are some of the species of manta rays that can be found in Raja Ampat:

  • Reef Manta Ray (Mobula alfredi): 

This species of manta ray is known for its distinctive white markings on its black body. They can grow up to 5 meters in wingspan.

The Reef Manta Ray (Mobula alfredi) is a species of manta ray that is commonly found in the waters around Raja Ampat, Indonesia. They are known for their distinctive black body with white markings on their bellies and fins. Reef Manta Rays are the smaller of the two species of manta rays, with an average wingspan of 3-4 meters. However, some individuals can grow up to 5 meters in wingspan. They are filter feeders and consume planktonic organisms such as krill and copepods. Reef Manta Rays are generally considered to be a vulnerable species due to their low reproductive rate, slow growth, and high demand for their gill plates in traditional Chinese medicine. Conservation efforts are underway to protect manta rays and their habitat in Raja Ampat and other areas around the world.

  • Giant Oceanic Manta Ray (Manta birostris): 

The largest species of manta ray, they can grow up to 7 meters in wingspan. They have a uniform black or dark brown body color without any distinctive markings.

Manta birostris, also known as the Giant Oceanic Manta Ray, is the largest species of ray in the world. They can be found in the waters around Raja Ampat, Indonesia, as well as in many other regions of the world. Giant Oceanic Manta Rays are known for their enormous size, with a wingspan of up to 7 meters, and their uniform black or dark brown body color without any distinctive markings.

Like other species of manta rays, Giant Oceanic Manta Rays are filter feeders, consuming planktonic organisms such as krill, copepods, and small fish. They are gentle and curious creatures and are known to interact with divers and snorkelers. However, they are also vulnerable to overfishing and habitat destruction. Manta rays are targeted for their gill plates, which are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine. They are also frequently caught as bycatch in commercial fishing operations.

Once again, the IUCN has classified them as “vulnerable”, so to save them and their habitat, conservation initiatives are being implemented. Numerous nations have put restrictions in place to safeguard manta rays, including restrictions on by-catch and bans on targeted fishing.

These two types above are very famous, but the two types below are very special, particularly because of their different look.

  • Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari): 

Although not technically a manta ray, this species is often mistaken for one due to its similar appearance. They have a mostly dark body with white spots and can grow up to 3 meters in wingspan.

Aetobatus narinari, commonly known as the Spotted Eagle Ray, are easily recognizable by their distinctive flattened body, long pointed snout, and distinctive white spots on their dark body. Spotted Eagle Rays have a wingspan of up to 3 meters and can weigh up to 200 kilograms.

Spotted Eagle Rays are typically found in shallow coastal waters, and they prefer to live in sandy or muddy areas near coral reefs or seagrass beds. They are a fast-swimming and agile species, and they are known to jump out of the water and perform acrobatic flips and somersaults. They feed on a variety of prey including small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks.

Like many other species of rays, Spotted Eagle Rays are vulnerable to overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution. They are considered to be a near-threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

  • Devil Ray (Mobula spp.):

This genus of ray includes several species that can be found in Raja Ampat. They are smaller than manta rays, with wingspans ranging from 1 to 3 meters.

Mobula spp. is a genus of rays that includes several species commonly known as devil rays. They are characterized by their triangular pectoral fins, which they use to "fly" through the water. Like other species of rays, they are cartilaginous fish, with no bones in their bodies.

Devil rays are filter feeders, consuming planktonic organisms such as small crustaceans, copepods, and krill. They are known for their spectacular acrobatics, often jumping out of the water and spinning in the air. Such a display is linked to mating events, or it could be a way of hunting as a group. Devil rays are not typically considered to be a threatened species, although some populations have declined due to overfishing and bycatch in commercial fisheries. Conservation efforts are underway to better understand and protect these fascinating and important creatures.


It's important to note that while manta rays can often be seen in Raja Ampat, they are wild animals and sightings are not guaranteed.

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