Swimming with a Hawaiian Manta Ray, Wildlife Adventure Bucket List

Wilderness vacations are at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists. Observing animals as they eat, play and live in their natural habitats brings us closer, highlighting how we are all connected in an important way. Whether you’re tracking gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda, photographing polar bears on the beaches of Hudson’s Bay in… CanadaSeeing the Big Five on safari Kenyaor visit the Galapagos Islands, one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, your dollars could potentially help support local communities, too.

However, you don’t have to leave the United States to see wildlife and experience amazing animal encounters. Watch the bison at Yellowstone National Park as they move the thick mass of snow with their huge heads; Elk herds hear the trumpet in it Grand Teton National ParkAnd Estes Park And Rocky Mountain National Park; Watch the sand crane migrate along the Platte River Nebraska. Beyond that, there’s another bucket-list-worthy adventure like no other: swimming with manta rays in the warm waters off the Big Island’s Kona Coast. Hawaii.

Members of the cartilaginous fish family, along with other fish made of cartilage rather than bone such as whale sharks, great white sharks, and stingrays, manta rays are the largest species of rays on the planet. Known as “ocean birds,” these passive filter feeders are drawn to this area to feed on plankton in the moonlight.

Tour operators will shine a bright light in the water, enticing a food source, and as the manta rays circle with their mouths open, smaller fish come to clean parasites from their bodies. When you enter the water for another nighttime snorkeling experience with these agile and gentle creatures that can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, you will undoubtedly feel the excitement paired with a bit of anxiety.

You’ll want to be as still as possible, keeping splashing and kicking with your fins to a minimum because manta rays are sensitive to disturbance – let the manta ray come to you. And while manta rays may travel close to your body, sometimes within inches, don’t touch them because you could inadvertently harm them by damaging the protective mucous layer that prevents bacterial infections.

Huge, nimble, and intelligent, this species, up to 16 feet in length with wingspan about 20 feet wide, is neither bite nor bite, and is considered one of the safest large animal encounters to enjoy. When they get close, you’ll marvel at their bony undersides, long spiky tail, and gigantic mouths as they wriggle, spin, and move around you. The markings—spots and spots—on their lower bodies are similar to a human fingerprint in that they are all unique. Researchers are able to directly track individual manta rays and can identify them from year to year.

The Big Island is unique and great for manta ray watching. There are three feeding sites where manta rays are frequently seen in the evening: Manta Village, Manta Heaven, and near Kawaihai Harbor. Manta rays do not migrate off the coast of the Big Island and can be seen along feeding grounds throughout the year, which means the best time to swim with them is any time.

On land, you can spot manta rays in the waters at places like Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph CollectionIt is a picturesque resort located along the horseshoe of the white sands of Kauna’oa Bay. Mauna Kea Beach shines floodlights over the water after sunset, attracting microscopic sea creatures, luring out manta rays. See the enormous shadows of the creatures at the Manta Ray Point. For the full up-close experience, book a manta ray boat tour for an evening snorkeling or diving adventure.

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