Hawaii's Manta Rays
Manta rays, one of Hawaii's most fascinating marine-life species, can be seen on some nighttime diving excursions along the Kona and Kohala coasts. They are generally completely harmless to divers, though of course no wild animal is totally predictable. If you don't want to get wet, head to the beach fronting the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, on the Kohala Coast, or to the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, where each evening, visitors gather by the hotel’s lights to watch manta rays feed in the shallows.
- The manta ray (Manta birostris), called the devil fish by some, is known as hahalua by Hawaiians.
- Its winglike fins, reaching up to 20 feet wide, allow the ray to skim through the water like a bird gliding through air.
- The manta ray uses the two large flap-like lobes extending from its eyes to funnel food to its mouth. It eats microscopic plankton, small fish, and tiny crustaceans.
- Closely related to the shark, the manta can weigh more than 3,000 pounds.
- Its skeleton is made of cartilage, not bone.
- A female ray gives birth to one or two young at a time; pups can be 45 inches long and weigh 20 pounds at birth.