Giant Manta Rays In Thailand

Giant Manta Rays In Thailand

Diving With Giant Manta Rays In Thailand

The magnificent giant manta rays are regular visitors to Thailand but despite their enormous size can be difficult to find around Phuket. These giant ocean creatures are for many scuba divers the ultimate underwater encounter. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to spend time with these enigmatic rays then you’ll know why.

How Big Are Giant Manta Rays?

They’re big! The largest ever recorded had a whopping wingspan of 9m. That’s not normal but they still average a huge 5 – 7m with the females being slightly larger than the males. Unsurprisingly giant manta rays (manta birostris) are the largest rays and can weigh over 1,000kg. Even at birth the pups have a wingspan of over 1m which already makes them larger than most rays. They have a relatively short lifespan of 20 years compared to a whale sharks 100 years +. So getting that big in that time is very impressive.

Ocean Wanderers?

It was long presumed that giant manta rays wandered 1,000’s of km around the worlds oceans but new studies suggest otherwise. Populations are much more local than at first thought. Giant manta rays were tagged for 6 months in different locations, the tag data revealed a surprisingly small travel area of only a few hundred km’s. Great for study but it does make populations more vulnerable to local hunting. Our giant manta rays in Thailand are not going to be replaced by others so it’s paramount that we protect them. Supporting great projects like Thailand Manta Trust is absolutely vital.

What Do Manta Rays Eat?

This will come as a surprise to most, less than 30% of their diet consists of surface plankton. Scientists have determined by muscle biopsy that the remainder is made from organisms dwelling in the mesopelagic zone. That’s science talk for depths between 200 – 1,000m. They could be much more active predators than we first thought and feed on small/medium sized fish and crustaceans. Again this does draw slight concerns, this mesopelagic zone is the next target for fisheries. The depletion of resources in this zone could have a significant impact on global populations.

So Why Do We See Them On Shallow Reefs?

For sure one reason is for a good clean, cleaner wrasse and butterfly fish congregate on certain areas of reef and wait for the manta rays to deliver their food. Dead skin and parasites are expertly removed by the army of cleaners leaving the manta ray clean and healthy. A potential second reason is sunbathing. Manta rays like most fish are ectotherms, meaning their body temperature is determined by the surrounding water. After long feeding forays in deep, cooler water they may visit shallow reefs to warm up. Whale sharks and sunfish display similar recovery behaviour in warmer surface waters. We often see all of these species near the surface away from coral reefs and cleaning stations.

Where Can I See Giant Manta Rays In Thailand?

We’re fortunate enough to have quite a few Phuket scuba diving sites that are visited by manta rays. On our day trips we have Racha Noi, especially the south tip. However the liveaboards in both the north and south andaman offer a far better chance. Koh Bon and Koh Tachai have regular sightings between October and May as do the southern dive sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang.

There’s of course no guarantee on any of the dive sites but who better than the local experts to give you up to date advice on where to go. Contact Local Dive Thailand and give yourself the very best chance of an encounter with these magnificent ocean giants.

Contact Us Now!

By Justin Hartrey

I've been enjoying the incredible marine life in our oceans for over 25 years. 13 years ago I became a PADI professional, hoping to introduce as many people as possible to the incredible beauty of the seas.

Having been fortunate enough to dive all over south east and especially Thailand, I enjoy sharing my experience and passion on this blog.

Posted in Rare & Peculiar Critters on .

Popular Services

first aid training phuket

First Aid Training Phuket – Be A Life Saver

First Aid Training In Phuket is just the same as anywhere else in the world. The Emergency First Response Course follows international standards so is valid globally. You don't have to be a diver to take this course, it's an extremely useful skill in all walks of life. Hotels and large companies should all have their fair share of willing responders. If you're in Phuket then we're more than willing to come to your organisation and let our pro [...]

Find Out More
reef octopus on the racha yai and racha noi scuba diving tour

Racha Yai & Racha Noi – Dive Tour

Racha Noi is Phuket's primary Manta hot spot, a cleaning station that regularly brings these amazing giants of the sea to visit us in the shallow waters of the many bays and dive sites the island supports. Racha Noi is also extremely diverse, with area's of breathtaking coral growth and deeper places with hidden secrets among the massive granite boulders! Adding to this, Phuket is not exactly known for wreck or macro diving but if you happen [...]

Find Out More

Daily Schedules

M/V Kepsub Schedule

Jobs @ Local Dive Thailand

Local Dive Thailand is one of Phuket's fatest growing & most vibrant scuba diving operations, we are always looking for quality staff to join us, so feel free to have a look at our jobs listing page.

Job Listings

Contact LDT

Local Guides, Local Knowledge, Local Experiences

Don't trust your diving to amateurs or freshly minted dive guides, dive with local experienced experts from Local Dive Thailand. Our Scuba Diving Phuket Tours will take you to see the rarest of the rare critters, you will be amazed by the macro life our guides can find, in the secret places only they know. To put it in perspective, if you were going to climb Mount Everest you would certainly hire a local sherpa to lead the way & keep you safe. Diving is similar because there is absolutely no substitute for local experience & local knowledge, Local Dive Thailand's guides are Phuket's Sherpa's of the Andaman Sea!

Learn More About Us

Scuba Diving Phuket, Phi Phi & Thailand

When talking about Scuba Diving in Phuket, you should believe the hype, many seasons we have had Whale Sharks grace us on our regular and easy to reach dive sites and on a good day you can add Sea Horses, Sea Moths, Snake Eels, Frog Fish & Octopus to what you can see on any given dive and so much more. If we are heading to Phi Phi Island for the day, you can possibly see Hawksbill Sea Turtles and Black Tip Reef Sharks, also don't forget the King Cruiser, 84 meters of beautiful wreck and the most amazing reef nursery for fish and nudibranch. Local Dive Thailand day trip tours to these locations are not to be missed when you are scuba diving Phuket, get in touch with us and book an 'awesome' day of diving.

Book Your Day Trip

Related News From Local Dive Thailand

See why we are Thailand's leading scuba diving Phuket tour provider, stay up to date & watch out for news & special liveaboard offers!

Seahorse-On-A-Phuket-Diving-Site The Archives

Thailand Suspends Export of Seahorses

CITES has announced the Thai governments decision to suspend the export of seahorses after not being able to meet the CITES obligations for the trade in seahorses, Thailand decided to stop issuing export permits earlier this year in lieu of obtaining a sustainable solution and protecting the wild population. It's a welcome move and hopefully a chance for one of diving's most loved animals to increase in numbers. Thailand is the worlds largest [...]

Read Full Story
Enriched Air Nitrox In Phuket News & Updates

Nitrox Membrane System On MV Kebsup

Our day trip to the King Cruiser wreck is one of the most popular on the Phuket diving scene, it's even more enjoyable if you dive with Enriched Air Nitrox. The depth of the wreck 18 - 32m can make it a short dive on normal air tanks but with Nitrox you can easily make a full 50 minutes as long as your air consumption allows. With this is mind we decided to invest in a Nitrox membrane system, allowing divers to chose on the day if they wou [...]

Read Full Story
great experiences on a open water course in phuket Scuba Diving For Beginners

How A Phuket PADI Open Water Course Works

A Phuket PADI Open Water Course will be the highlight of your holiday in Thailand. Our warm tropical waters, abundant marine life, excellent facilities and experienced PADI professionals will make the experience a special one. Unlike most diving destinations around the world, Phuket offers great infrastructure, plenty of other things to do and all year diving. It starts with a bright and early pick up between 07:00 - 07:40am depending [...]

Read Full Story

Local Dive Thailand Office In Phuket


Find Us On Google Maps