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Amazing Manta Rays - Scuba Diving Hawaii

Scuba Diving with the wonderful Giant Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta birostris, is something really extraordinary. The biggest oceanic manta ray redcorded was more than twenty five ft (7.6 m) wing-tip to wing-tip and weighed over 5,300 pounds (2,400 kg). Manta Rays have a short tail and no stinging spine. These rays are fantastically acrobatic and the viewer can see them execute aerobatic flips and rolls as they move smoothly through the water. These rays will even jump (breach) from the sea and are excellent for underwater photography. It should be noted that, Manta Rays have the highest brain-to-body ratio of the sharks, rays and skates (Elasmobranchii), with measurements approaching what is expected in mammals as opposed to in fishes.

Smeltzer completed two dives, one late in the afternoon where he saw 17 Mantas gliding along the reef and a second night Manta Dive, where he recorded 31 Manta Rays. The Rays feed on plankton that is in turn drawn to light. The scuba diving operators provide individuals flashlights as well as set a few additional lights in the water and you simply sit in roughly thirty five ft of water at the same time as the Mantas swim all around you. It is without doubt a memorable dive.

This is a great location for an underwater photographer. The Rays are all around you while the problem is to be capable to compose and shoot very quickly. On the night dive, Smeltzer shoots at a fairly high shutter speed 1/320 with his strobes aimed wide of his lense to reduce spots on the images brought about by the large quantity of plankton in the water. The divers' torches draw plankton along with other small marine creatures which consequently attracts the Manta Rays.. This poses a bit of a dilemma to get a clear shot however it can be achieved with a little persistence and practice. The flips and rolls of the Rays helps create some very compelling marine life photographs.

Breeding amongst Manta Rays is similar to other closely related rays. Copulation occurs close to the surface, generally within the first meter of the water column. It begins with the male pursuing the female, for as much as 30 minutes, while both are frequently closely pursued by a group of other hopeful suitors.. Such mating trains seem to be caused by a full moon. The male ray bites the pectoral fin of the female ray and then moves its claspers into the cloaca, holding it there for one minute to one and a half minutes while copulation takes place. The eggs stay inside the female Manta Ray's body for as long as 12 months and hatch in side the "mother" so that she gives birth to live young. The normal litter size is two pups, and there is frequently a two year break between births (source - Wikipedia).

Adults can be easily recognized by their considerable Triangular pectoral fins and projecting u-shaped fins, forward extensions of the pectoral fins that project anteriorly on either side of the head. Each cephalic fin is about two times as long as its root is wide. The length of each cephalic lobe, end-to-end, is 14% of the disc width. They are rolled like spirals whilst swimming and flattened when eating. This ray has smooth skin, a broad, rectangular terminal mouth situated at the front of the head, and a tail that does not have a spine.

It is an opportunity not to be missed the next time you are on the island of Hawaii or if you are visiting Hanifaru, a small lagoon located near an unpopulated isle in the Maldives or any other Manta Ray scuba diving location. It is an breathtaking opportunity to meet some really magnificent creatures.

Read other dive site evaluations on Smeltzer's blog and look at additional underwater artwork on his website and follow him on Twitter @ images2inspire.The pool is open...

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