Smooth or Spines: Do Manta Rays Have Barbs?

do manta rays have barbs

Sharing is caring!

In this post, we explore manta rays and if they are dangerous. One question we are often asked is do manta rays have barbs?

The short answer to this is no, and you do not need to be afraid of these creatures whilst in the ocean. But we will get into that shortly.

Manta rays are some of the most majestic and beautiful marine creatures that grace our oceans. They can be found worldwide in tropical waters off of Australia, Costa Rica, Thailand, and more.

They feed close to the surface, which gives divers and snorkellers the perfect opportunity to swim with them, with no kit required. Simply bring a snorkel and you’re good to go.

Let’s take a closer look…

Do Manta Rays Actually Have Barbs?

Manta rays do not have the deadly barb that is found on their sting-ray cousins.

The much larger and more intelligent manta ray does not have a barb that could impale or injure you, so there is no need to worry about this whilst swimming with a manta.

They are often confused with the stingray but in actual fact are much more peaceful and pose no danger at all to humans.

As these rays are intelligent, they understand that we are not a threat to them, which is why they allow humans to get extremely close to them in the wild and experience a moment they will never forget.

Although manta rays are much larger and can look quite intimidating. They are filter feeders and are no threat at all to humans.

They do have teeth, but they are only on the lower jaw to chew their food, and they are not sharp enough to tear or pierce human flesh.

Are Manta Rays Dangerous?

Manta rays are not dangerous towards humans at all, they do not have barbs and are not aggressive at all.

If a manta ray feels threatened, it will use its large pectoral fins to quickly flee the scene.

They typically swim at around 14/kmh but are able to swim in bursts at up to 35/kmh, so are more than capable of fleeing if they feel in danger.

However, if mantas are treated with respect and care they are more than happy swimming by us humans and being inquisitive.

It’s important to be able to distinguish a manta ray from a stingray, as the manta is a gentle giant whilst the stingray has a sharp barb that is capable of killing a human.

Often when people first see manta rays, they see that they look similar to a stingray and become fearful, but once they realize that they are different species the experience totally changed.

Can I Swim With Manta Rays?

Yes, swimming with manta rays is an experience that many enjoy on a regular basis all around the world.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a hotspot for manta rays then you may have encountered them already. They regularly feed on the surface which makes swimming with manta rays accessible for anyone, even without diving gear.

There is nothing quite like swimming with a manta ray in its natural environment, they are gentle giants that appear to be flying as their pectoral fins look a little like wings.

Manta Ray Island in Fiji is a popular destination for swimming with manta rays as it is one of the best and most unique places in the world to do so.

The months between May and October are typically best to swim with the manta rays of manta ray island, and you’ll benefit from the summer weather of Fiji too.

Can A Manta Ray Sting A Human?

A manta ray has no way of harming a human being as they do not have barbs and do not have sharp enough teeth.

Not only that, but they are not aggressive whatsoever. The only way to remove themselves from a threatening situation is to flee, which is what their large pectoral fins help them do.

Although manta rays do look similar to sting rays to the untrained eye, they are completely the opposite in terms of the threat they pose to humans.

If you’re able to identify a manta ray then you’ll be able to have an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime whilst swimming with them.

Just remember, they are not harmful to humans at all and have no means of stinging or biting you.

Final Thoughts

Manta rays are beautiful marine animals. They are angels of the ocean and are a real spectacle to witness in the wild.

I’ve been lucky enough to swim with manta rays a couple of times and have to say that it’s one of the best experiences of my life and I would recommend it to anyone.

These gentle giants and amazing to witness, it’s breathtaking to encounter them in their natural habitat.

Hopefully, this post has been helpful in clearing up that manta rays do not have barbs and are not a threat to humans.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope it’s been helpful for you.