Manta Ray Cleaning Stations: Fishy Day Spas in Hawaii

by | Apr 25, 2022 | About Manta Rays, Manta Rays in Hawaii

Birds roll in the dust to remove dirt and bugs from their feathers.

Elephants take dust and mud baths as well, plus their amazing trunks get used as shower hoses so they can spray themselves with dust or water.

Cats, lions, and other felines spend a good part of their days licking themselves.

In the coral reefs around Hawaii, you find “cleaning stations” – where manta rays (and other animals) go to get cleaned.

More specifically, the mantas have a symbiotic relationship with cleaner fish (like the cleaner wrasse fish and the scarlet cleaner shrimp). These small fish and crustaceans swim around the larger animals and eat the parasites, bacteria, and dead skin cells from their bodies.

Watch the Video: Cleaning Stations in Hawaii

Watch the magic happen in this video, where you can see mantas swimming through their “day spa” while their mouths and gills are getting some special attention.

The mantas keep swimming during the whole process (mantas can never stop swimming), but they stay close to the cleaning station, the spot in the coral reef where the cleaners live.

This process is essential for the manta rays to stay healthy – and it’s highly beneficial for all other parties involved as well. The underwater ecosystem is a truly magical phenomenon!

Another fun video to watch is this one, where you see cleaners doing their work inside the mouths and gills of moray eels and other fish – and even in the mouth of a diver. Do not try this at home!


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