Last week in Indonesia, I and my friend went swimming around with manta rays. To be honest, looking at these big flat sharks like rays for the very first time made me pretty nervous. I wanted to know whether manta rays sting or is it dangerous to swim around with them. My friend, who is a marine biologist, gave me the answer and explained it in detail which I’m going to share it with you.
So, do manta rays sting? No, manta rays do not sting as they do not have a stinger. They look ferocious due to their large size but are pretty harmless. Due to the absence of a stinger and teeth, manta rays can’t hurt any diver or swimmer.
There are 2 species of mantas: giant oceanic manta ray and reef manta. Both of these species of rays do not possess stingers and are not aggressive in nature which means they are harmless.
People often think that manta rays are very similar to stingy rays which have a poisonous stinger on the tail. But this is not true. Although they look like alien spacecraft, these two species of rays are completely different from each other. Let me explain this in detail.
Difference Between Manta Rays and Stingrays
Stingrays as their name suggest possessing a poisonous stinger or barb on their tails. The poison from stingrays can even lead to the death of a human.
Manta Rays on the other side do not have a stinger or barbs on their tail and do not have the ability to produce poison in their bodies. They do have a long tail like stingrays but this is nothing to be scared off.
Manta rays live in tropical and subtropical areas of oceans. Manta rays only live in salt waters hence, can’t be found in fresh water. On the other side, stingrays can live in fresh waters, as well as warm temperate and shallow ocean waters. They are generally found sitting passively on ocean beds.
Unlike stingrays, manta rays do not settle on the ocean floors. It is due to the fact that their gills are located on their bellies hence, they need to be continually swimming so that water passes over their gills and thus they can breathe.
Manta Rays Can’t Hurt Humans
During the first swim session with mantas, the first question that comes to people minds is whether it is safe to swim around with mantas. It is a wise question to ask as nobody wants to get hurt on a holiday trip.
Due to the fact that manta rays don’t have a barb and teeth, mantas are harmless to humans. They are often seen swimming very close to the divers, but it is just out of their curiosity to check out humans and play with them.
There has never been any past reported incident where someone got hurt by a manta ray. They are playful creatures and show their inquisitive behavior around humans. This is why so many divers like to observe mantas from so close and take pictures of them underwater.
Manta rays have surprisingly an extraordinary brain. They are very intelligent creatures and are courageous enough to encounter humans from very close. They show this intelligence even at the time of catching food.
Mantas contains filters in their body to catch the food and they use them very intelligently by passing water into their wide opened mouth and thus catch planktons.