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Rays in the Galápagos Islands - Eco-Tour - Ecuador

The Manta Ray (Manta hamiltoni, mantaraya), with its large lobes, long mouth, thin tail, and massive three-meter wingspan, is an amazingly beautiful, graceful, and unassuming creature. And watching it swim or jump out of the water to remove annoying parasites or remora is a truly unforgettable experience. They feed on plankton near the surface of the water, making visual sightings from the ship or dinghy a fairly common occurrence.

They are often seen in open water between the central islands, most often from the cliff at South Plaza or from the beach at Rábida.

Golden Rays (Rhinoptera steindachneri, raya dorada) range in size, but they are usually between a half-meter to a meter across the wings. They are aptly named for their golden-colored tops, but they can also be recognized by their blunt heads and long, whip-like tail. They are often seen in the major snorkel sites swimming solitary, but they also swim in large schools in quiet lagoons.

The best place to see schools of golden rays is at Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz).

Spotted Eagle Rays (Aetobatus narinari, raya águila) are also commonly sighted schooling in small lagoons, like Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz). They have pointed heads, long tails with a spiny termination, and a wingspan ranging from one to two meters, but their most distinguishing feature is the array of white spots that covers their black tops. They are also occasionally seen snorkeling at Turtle Island (Española) or off Floreana.

Stingrays (family Dasyatididae, rayas) are common residents of shallow beach areas and deeper sandy bottoms throughout the Galápagos. They are gray with a flat body and long, narrow tail, which has the nasty stinger at its base. Size and shape of stingrays can vary, from the smaller, angular “diamond stingray” to the larger (up to two meter wingspan), circular “marbled” stingray.

You can spot stingrays lurking on the sea floor of some shallower snorkel sites or hiding out in the surf at Punta Cormorant and/or Post Office Bay (Floreana).


Here are other activities in and around The Galápagos Islands that may be of interest: More Isabela Visitor Sites, Land Birds - Galápagos, Punta Espinosa, Galápagos Hawk, Short-Eared Owl, Land Birds - Galápagos and Galápagos Dove.

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