Imagine swimming through the vast blue ocean and noticing a shadow passing over you. You know something huge is above and you look up to see not one, but six enormous manta rays circling gracefully. It’s a beautiful sight that gets better by the minute as you drift closer to them. They bank majestically and appear to be flying as they move effortlessly through the water. These rays are known for their gentle nature and they pose no threat to scuba divers. They are filter feeders, scooping krill and plankton into their mouths as they swim. Scuba divers consider them to be one of the most majestic and beautiful fish in the ocean. Swimming with manta rays is a bucket list item for many but they are elusive and difficult to find. Slowly moving closer, this diver had the experience of a lifetime, briefly swimming among them and getting a very close look. This was his first ever encounter with manta rays. They are mesmerizing to watch on their own and even more so in a group. These mantas were sighted off Kicker Rock near San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos. The word manta comes from the Portuguese and Spanish word “mantle”, meaning blanket or cloak. They are also referred to as “devilfish” because some believe that their mouths resemble horns, giving them an evil appearance. Manta rays are listed as a threatened species as their numbers have dwindled due to pollution, gill net entanglement and intentional harvest for the use of their gill rakers in Chinese medicine. They are particularly vulnerable due to their long gestation period of 12-13 months and their low reproductive rate. A female will give birth to one or two live pups and may not mate in consecutive years. As soon as they are born, the young are fully independent and receive no care from their parents. After passing through the bubbles of the divers, these rays made a few more slow circles and then glided off into the blue. The divers were left in complete awe.