I'm going to just come out and say it: manta rays are pretty much the coolest underwater creatures.
Luckily, I got the chance to go on a night snorkel to try and meet one of these beauties IRL.
These are the things I learned:
1. Be patient: manta rays, like most great things in life, take some time to get to you.
2. Enjoy the things that may get in your way.
3. Don't be scared of the unknown!
4. Manta rays from afar kind of look like ghosts.
5. Sometimes you just have to gaze at the beauty and be mesmerized.
6. Seeing something this ethereal just floating by is a spiritual experience that never gets old.
7. We are just beginning research on these aliens who float among us.
8. Sometimes you'll find what you're looking for when you least expect it.
9. A cool name is very important.
10. Manta Rays can be identified by the marks on their bellies.
11. Humans are a greater predator than sharks. That's right: SHARKS.
12. Some of the main threats that humans pose are:
a. Leaving unattended fishing lines which can hook, tangle, harm and even kill them.
b. Irresponsible charter operators who take people to scuba and snorkel with manta rays will bring their lit boats too close to the manta rays in order to attract the plankton. This then brings the manta rays too close to the boat's propellers, ladders and rudders.
c. Run off into the ocean that can kill coral reefs, harming the ecosystem.