No, they're not manta rays.
These graceful denizens of the deep are mobula rays (Mobula tarapanaca
). They belong to the same family as manta rays but they're different. And above all, it's very rare to spot them. Italian filmmaker Claudio Valerio managed to approach them.
Getting to the site, Princess Alice - a huge seamount whose top is at a depth of -32m and that plummets to more than 1000 metres, right in the middle of the North Atlantic - is not for the faint-hearted. From the Azores, it takes about 3 hours and a half to cover the 45 nautical miles to get there.
Best period is summer, from July to September, when visibility usually exceeds 30 metres. It's best suitable for experienced divers. Be prepared to spend at least a week as all dives are weather dependent. ABOUT THE DIVE
Several dive operators offer this dive. Claudio Valerio recommends Cetacean Watching on Pico Island. More on their website
. © Claudio Valerio www.claudio-valerio.com