Swimming with manta rays

BBC Wildlife Local Patch Reporter Warren Price describes an incredible encounter in Mexico’s Revillagigedo archipelago.

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Manta ray

"The Revillagigedo Archipelago is a group of four volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 390km off the south-west tip of Mexico’s Baja’s California Peninsula. More commonly known as ‘Socorro’, (after the largest island) they are renowned for their unique ecosystem and are often referred to as Mexico’s Galapagos.

The islands give opportunities for close encounters with many ocean giants, including humpback whales, whale sharks, schooling hammerheads and the area's most famous resident, the giant oceanic manta. 

After many hours of travelling from the UK, which included 15 hours of flying time, two flights and a 30-hour ocean crossing on a dive boat, we finally reached our destination of Socorro. It wasn’t long into our first dive that these huge creatures came out of the blue and headed towards us. 

Mantas are known to have the largest brains of any fish, and are highly intelligent and very inquisitive. Over the days of diving, it was clear that the mantas were seeking us out for interaction as much as we were seeking them.

The mantas greeted us head on, with no sign of shyness, and frequently came to within just a few inches of our faces. They have Cephalic fins either side of their huge mouths that they would curl up and twitch, giving the impression of a dog sniffing, to assess if you are friendly.

They seemed to enjoy the sensation of the bubbles from our diving regulators against their bellies, so they would hover right above our heads, letting the air blow over them. Their 8m pectoral fins flapped like elephant ears, so  expertly swimming close to me, yet never once did they touch me in this special interaction, nor I them.

It was a truly magical trip, filled with incredible experiences. I love the way BBC Wildlife's Local patch Project gives me and others the opportunity to share these wildlife encounters online."

Find out more about the BBC Wildlife Local Patch Reporters project and find out what other Local Patch Reporters have been up to on our Forum.

Read more great wildlife blog posts by Warren Price. 

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