Some scuba divers travel the world in hope of seeing a manta ray. But lucky swimmers got a glimpse of one of the ocean’s most majestic creatures off Seven Mile Beach on Monday without having to venture more than a few feet from shore.
The giant manta, with an eight-foot “wing span,” was seen in shallow waters close to the Surfside beach bar on Monday and was later spotted again close to West Bay dock.
Manta rays are gentle giants and can reach sizes of up to 18 feet. Despite their imposing bulk, they are “filter feeders” and eat mostly zooplankton – tiny organisms too small to see.
They are known as “flying rays” because they use their large pectoral fins, which resemble wings, for propulsion.
They are sometimes seen by divers around the Cayman Islands, but little is known of their migratory patterns.
There have been 50 reported manta sightings off Cayman since 2008, when the Department of Environment started recording data.
Now the DoE is encouraging anyone who sees a manta ray in Cayman’s waters to send photographs to help with an international research project.
Pictures of the underside of the ray will be used for an online global database, mantamatcher.org, which seeks to get a better sense of the global distribution and long-term movement of the species.
Anyone who sees a manta ray can alert the Department of Environment through Facebook, by email at [email protected] or at 949-8469.
The giant manta, with an eight-foot “wing span”, was seen in shallow waters close to the Surfside beach bar on Monday and was later spotted again close to West Bay dock.