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Some manta rays glide inches over me and my camera in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat. Mantas are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they swallow with their open mouths as they swim. Please go to @mattiasklumofficial to see this incredible ecosystem from above! Mantas do visit cleaning stations for the removal of parasites like in this short film. The largest mantas can reach 1,350 kg (2,980 lb) and at least 7 m (23 ft) in “wingspan”. In 2014, Indonesia brought in a fishing and export ban as it realized that manta ray tourism is more economically beneficial than allowing the fish to be killed. A dead manta is worth $50 to $600 while manta ray tourism can bring in $1 million during the life of a single manta ray. Indonesia has 2.2 million square miles of ocean and this is now the world’s largest sanctuary for manta rays. Mantas have one of the highest brain-to-body mass ratios of all fish and if approached with care and respect they can be curious and spend a long time with you. The coral reefs of Raja Ampat are some of the richest marine habitats on Earth. Let’s protect Raja Ampat and other fragile marine ecosystems!

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I’ve just whipped up a batch of silly sea-inspired valentines (with even sillier punny messages), now up for digital download on my Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/497927532/sea-i-love-you).

The file is set up so it prints easily on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper and only needs a few quick cuts to trim them into a sweet little pile of happy oceanic thoughts!

Spa day for the manta ray! 

Here, small cleaner wrasse clean parasites and dead tissue from a manta ray in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Talk about a powerful exfoliator! By chowing down on parasites, cleaner wrasse provide rays and other fish an important service, protecting them from disease and keeping them healthy for years to come. 

(Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA)

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Feeding rays (and the occasional quick fish) in the Maldives