Palau's Magestic Mantas A School of Mantas Manta Ray Upclose Manta Surfacing Giant Manta with Diver

In Palau we have been collecting reef manta photo IDs since 2009. Without invasive tagging methods, and with the help of local dive guides and tourists we have been able to ID over 350 individual mantas in Palau, in the process learning a lot about these amazing creatures. Palau mantas spend more time near reefs and inside lagoons than we knew, and stay year-round, following the plankton around Palau's reefs, depending on wind direction, moon cycles and tides. On special occasions when conditions are perfect, large feeding aggregations of dozens of mantas can be seen around the northern reefs. Diver bubbles can bother and block feeding mantas, so snorkeling is the least disturbing way to observe feeding mantas. The manta cleaning stations are deeper and only accessible to scuba divers. If divers keep their distance and stay still on the bottom so the animals feel comfortable, they often stay around for a whole dive.

There are only five areas with cleaning stations known in Palau so far, and the most consistent one, German Channel, where mantas feed as well as clean, has become one of the top tourist spots in Palau. Hundreds of people enter the water here daily during the November- April season hoping to see a manta ray snorkeling or diving.

Mandy Etpison

Founder, Palau Manta ID Project & Database
Palau Project Leader, Manta Trust
Managing Director, Etpison Museum & Capt. Wilson Art Gallery

All photos on this site taken by Mandy Etpison unless otherwise credited

 

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You can help add important data by submitting Jpeg images of any Palau manta bellies you do not see on this site, with the location and date of the encounter. We will update this database each season.
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mandy etpison with the manta mural she painted with her sister Lucky Thiissen for the Captain Wilson Art Gallery at the Palau Pacific Resort in 2017

Mandy Etpison with the manta mural she painted with her sister Lucky Thijssen for the Captain Wilson Art Gallery at the Palau Pacific Resort in 2017.