Christmas Island National Park

A favourite of scuba divers, these huge, placid rays use their ‘wings’ to propel themselves through the open water in search of tiny plankton to feed on.

Manta rays are usually black on top with white patches on their shoulders. The underside is white with dark markings that are unique to each ray, like a fingerprint. They have protruding flaps on either side of their mouth that are used to funnel plankton as they feed.

They can grow to seven metres wide and live for up to 50 years.

Manta rays are occasionally spotted leaping from the water, but are most commonly seen cruising just under the surface or visiting ‘cleaning stations’ on the reef, where cleaner fish remove parasites.

The best time to see mantas at Christmas Island is during the wet season (November to March) when they come to feed on plankton blooms.

Scientific name

Manta birostris / Manta alfredi