Kiritimati: Manta Rays

We saw nearly two dozen manta rays while cruising the often milky waters of the Kiritimati Lagoons, sometimes two or three mantas together. Gracefully swimming near the water surface and probably feeding on abundant plankton. We even tried swimming with them but the visibility is near zero and you get much better views from above the water. A couple swam really close to the boat and almost under it – huge but graceful sea creature, seemingly flying in the water and flopping their giant wings. Manta rays are the largest species of rays, with wingspans reaching up to 7 m (23 ft) or more. They can weigh as much as 1,400 kilograms (3,000 pounds). They are filter feeders, consuming large quantities of plankton and small fish by swimming with their mouths open and filtering food particles from the water. Mantas are very curious animals and often approach boat and snorkelers. Manta rays give birth to live young, with females typically giving birth to one or two pups every two to five years.