Socorro Manta Etiquette
One of the unique signatures of diving in the Socorro Islands is multiple encounters with Giant Manta Rays (up to 20 ft., 7m wingspans).
With more than 16 years of fantastic diving experiences with the mantas at Socorro, we'd like to share some tips and thoughts on how to interact with these large, magnificent
- While Mantas may be seen on any dive
in the Socorro Islands, we
also have special dive sites which are manta hotspots.
Boiler" at San Benedicto Island is the most famous. Mantas
are attracted to these areas because they are "cleaning stations".
During our 16 years in the islands, the Solmar V has found
these cleaning stations, and we know which
combination of sea/weather conditions will produce the best
- The mantas in Socorro are cleaned of naturally
occurring parasites by Clarion Angels, an angelfish only found
in the Revillagigedos
and lower Sea of Cortez, and the few (if not only) types
of adult angelfish in the world which engage in cleaning behavior.
- Most of our manta encounters take place in blue water, right
alongside these cleaning areas. The mantas are free swimming, and
return to the divers again and again on most dives. We've
even had them follow us up to the tenders (and the Solmar
V) and "wait" for divers to get back in the water.
such unique behavior? Frankly, we don't know of any other manta
encounters in the world like this. The Revillagigedos Archipelago
is remote, and back in the early days, we thought the mantas
confused divers with some type of large cleaning fish, but that didn't
make much sense, since all cleaning fish are small and
However, we did notice (and you'll see it
when you cruise with us) the mantas do like to swim and hover just
above divers, and seem
to enjoy the feeling of our SCUBA bubbles on their bellies. Since
this may indeed feel exactly like the gentle nipping of the cleaning
Clarion Angels, we now understand their fondness for divers. And
are very grateful for their attention!
Manta Etiquette is easy. First, you don‚t
need to swim toward the mantas, or chase them. They will come to
you! Simply hover near
the cleaning station in 30-50 feet of water (there is no reason to
go deeper) and relax.
Second, when they approach, don't make quick movements with
cameras, fins, or your arms. The mantas don‚t ever seem to
be frightened of divers, but they do seem to avoid divers who chase
after them or make sudden movements. As exciting as the first couple
of encounters are, please be patient...
Often the mantas initially swim by to check you out, and circle out
into the blue. But they almost always return to the cleaning station, and get even
closer to you on each pass. When the mantas are comfortable with
you, they approach very close, and then pause right in front (or over) you,
and flare their wings in the traditional cleaning position. They may even get
close enough that you may have to kick back a few feet or two.
All interaction takes place on the mantas‚ terms, not ours. Stay
relatively shallow and keep your movements slow and smooth. You‚ll
be rewarded with multiple manta encounters on most dives, up close
and very personal, and know that you‚ve experienced one of
the most unique and exciting diving experiences in the world.
The mantas will be out in force during Spring
Season (April and May), and we'll also be keeping a sharp lookout
for the last Humpbacks
of Winter Season and first Whale Sharks of the year in April.
This article is from the Solmar
V eNEWS Article Archive