Video of a Giant Manta Rays in Thailand

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The giant manta ray, Manta birostris, is a common visitor to Thailand. The first manta ray in this video was filmed at Koh Bon's south-west ridge, north of the Similan Islands in the Andaman Sea, where scuba divers can often encounter giant manta rays.

We then meet another giant manta ray at Hin Daeng in Thailand's southern islands, another popular scuba diving destination.

Finally we encounter a giant manta ray at Richelieu Rock, also north of the Similan Islands in the Surin Islands National Park.

Manta rays are pelagic elasmobranchs, closely related to sharks. There are now known to be at least 2 distinct species of manta ray. This video features the largest species, the giant manta ray, Manta birostris, which is thought to travel great distances underwater.

The first giant manta ray at Koh Bon has 2 common remoras, Remora remora, attached to it's head. The manta at Richelieu Rock has many smaller remoras (live sharksuckers), Echeneis naucrates, accompanying it. The remoras attach themselves to the manta ray and other large marine animals using their dorsal fin, which has evolved into a sucker. The remoras get a free ride, and they feed on the giant manta ray's faeces.

Manta rays are threatened because of overfishing. The manta's gill rakers are used in a so-called Traditional Chinese Medicine. As it has become popular in recent years, the manta ray population has fallen dramatically, and the IUCN have declared giant manta rays as "vulnerable with an elevated risk of extinction".

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Nick Hope