Manta alfredi (Krefft, 1868)
     I saw this manta on March 3, 2003 while snorkeling in Hanauma Bay just outside the reef on the Witch's Brew side. It was the first Manta Ray anyone had reported seeing inside the reef in recent memory, or perhaps ever. This one was small, about 5 or 6 ft. across. It was feeding in an area where a lot of floating trash, weed and plankton had accumulated. (I could feel little stings on my face from the plankton as I snorkeled). The ray made wide circles with its mouth open and occasonally would swim straight at me, diving at the last moment but within easy arm's reach. It had a small fish hook embedded in its head, not visible in the picture. After playing with it for 10-15 minutes I went up to my car to get my camera. Amazingly, the manta was still there when I returned and I snapped this shot. Several days previously, Suzanne Hammer reported seeing a manta near the mouth of the bay. Perhaps it was the same one. Hopefully it will stick around. Photo: Hanauma Bay, O`ahu.
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Text and photos copyright by John P. Hoover