Scroll Top

Record Breaking 46 Manta Rays on Kona Night Dive!

On September 21, 2014 a record breaking 46 manta rays showed up for a night dive in Kona, HI. This is how it looked from the perspective of the guests of the Kona Aggressor II.

This is a guest post by James Begeman

As captain of the Kona Aggressor II liveaboard one of the most important decisions I am tasked with each week is deciding which night we will do the world famous Kona Manta Ray Night Dive. Divers travel from all over the globe to witness the beauty and grace of these magnificent creatures, so we want to arrive on the best night possible each week. When we got a manta report Sunday morning informing us that a record-breaking 45 manta rays showed up the night before, we knew we should get to Manta Heaven immediately. Manta Heaven is a dive site located right off shore from the Kona International Airport and most nights is the best place in Kona to see large numbers of manta rays.

During our afternoon dives the mantas were already gathering so we knew we were in for a treat. As more and more boats arrived and the sun got lower in the sky you could feel the excitement build. By dusk about a dozen dive and snorkel boats were in place and setting up lights near the campfire for the night dive. As soon as darkness hit the plankton started gathering in every beam of light. Our very eager divers entered the water and were immediately greeted by a half dozen mantas. As we made our way to the campfire we could see the show was in full force. There were more mantas than divers and there was plankton everywhere. We took a seat at the back of the group and held our lights high.

For the next hour we watched in amazement as more and more manta rays showed up for the feeding frenzy. They did barrel rolls, back flips, dive bombs, and incredible aerial acrobatics while filling up on plankton. It was impossible to keep track of just how many manta rays were flying at us from all directions, but it was fun to try.

Each manta ray has a unique pattern of spots on their ventral surface that is their version of a fingerprint. The mantas in Kona that have been spotted before all have names and are catalogued by the Manta Pacific Research Foundation. Every night the various dive operators compile a list of which mantas were present for the manta dive. It took a few days, but the official count was announced mid-week: a record-breaking 46 manta rays showed up to Manta Heaven on September 21, 2014! All of us on the Kona Aggressor II were ecstatic to be part of the magic!