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Manta Rays and Eagle Rays

Magical manta rays are commonly seen on our Kauai boat tours and Niihau boat tours, particularly during the winter months.

Of all fish species, manta rays have both the biggest brains and the biggest brain-to-body-size ratio. These gentle giants can even pass the mirror test, suggesting a level of self-awareness. It’s a very special feeling to witness manta rays gliding through the water, gracefully feeding on plankton, and respiring air through the gills on their underside.

At times, manta rays breach the water’s surface, sometimes with a somersault motion—it’s quite a sight! Native Hawaiians held manta rays in very high regard and in 2009, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to ban the killing or capturing of manta rays.

The spotted eagle ray is another species we commonly see on our Kauai boat tours and Niihau boat tours, throughout the year. The Hawaiian name of the spotted eagle ray is hihimanu which means “magnificent” or “elegant bird” and that about describes them perfectly. Their “wings” (pectoral fins) can span up to six feet and their black and white coloration is stunning.

If you encounter either species while snorkeling, resist the urge to touch them– they’re covered with a thin mucous that protects them from bacterial infections.

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