A Place of Giants

Manta rays in the Maldives

Not all the animals seen on a coral reef are permanent residents. Many others come and go, often attracted by seasonal gluts of food, and one of the most dramatic aggregations ufabet is that of manta rays in the Maldives.

Manta rays in the Maldives

A Place of Giants

In Hanifaru Bay, the corals form a funnel-shaped lagoon, about the size of a soccer field, where the incoming tide concentrates huge clouds of plankton. The first few mantas appear just after high tide, followed by bigger groups until there can be as many as 200 individuals feeding at the same time.

Most are reef mantas, but there are also a few oceanic mantas. Both are filter feeders. They plough through the plankton soup, the horn-like cephalic fins on either side of their heads funnelling the food into their ufabet letterbox-shaped mouths.

In a graceful underwater ballet, some rays swoop in and then loop-theloop, scooping up plankton as they go. Others skim the seabed, swimming just millimetres above the sand, and a few target plankton swarms at the surface. Sometimes they feed together.

When the plankton swarms thicken, many mantas form into long feeding chains, and when conditions are especially favourable, more than ufabet fifty rays spiral up in what is called ‘cyclone feeding’.

As they spin around in tight formation, they create a vortex, concentrating the food and sucking it in with their great, gaping mouths. When the feeding is good, a reef manta can consume 27 kilograms of plankton in a day, and if it is really good whale sharks also turn up and join in the feast. Big fish, big appetites! Hanifaru really is a place of giants.