This week, a huge Manta ray was observed in the coral reserve in Eilat by the inspector of the marine unit of the Nature and Parks Authority, Omri Omasi.
“I went out to sea in reserve to snorkel, suddenly I saw in front of me an amazing spectacle: a huge Manta ray about 4 meters (12 ft) wide, spreading its wings in the water. I have been diving for more than 15 years and have never seen a Manta ray. And it was huge.”
Manta rays are large rays belonging to the genus Mobula. It has triangular pectoral fins, horn-shaped cephalic fins and large, forward-facing mouths. The Mantas are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they gather with their open mouths as they swim. Gestation lasts over a year and Mantas give birth to live pups. Mantas may visit cleaning stations for the removal of parasites. Like whales, they breach for unknown reasons.
Mantas are the dream of every diver who enters the water, but in Eilat such an observation is rare. The Manta is being fished around the world due to the high value of its flesh and fins and is today classified in a “vulnerable” state of conservation by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).