An Ode To The Manta Ray : Short Wave A few months ago, on a trip to Hawaii, Short Wave host Emily Kwong encountered manta rays for the first time. The experience was eerie and enchanting. And it left Emily wondering — what more is there to these intelligent, entrancing fish?

Today, Emily poses all her questions to Rachel Graham, the founder and executive director of MarAlliance, a marine conservation organization working in tropical seas.

Have you been completely captivated by an animal too? Share your story with us at shortwave@npr.org.

An Ode To The Manta Ray

An Ode To The Manta Ray

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There are two known species of manta ray, the giant manta ray and the reef manta ray. Both populations are at-risk due to threats like fisheries and pollution. The IUCN lists the giant manta ray as endangered and the reef manta ray as vulnerable. Rachel T Graham/MarAlliance hide caption

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Rachel T Graham/MarAlliance

There are two known species of manta ray, the giant manta ray and the reef manta ray. Both populations are at-risk due to threats like fisheries and pollution. The IUCN lists the giant manta ray as endangered and the reef manta ray as vulnerable.

Rachel T Graham/MarAlliance

On a trip to Hawaii, Emily Kwong and two friends went on a nighttime snorkeling tour.

Their first few moments in the water, staring down at the sea floor, they saw a beautiful array of butterflyfish chomping on coral and plankton.

But within minutes, out of the corner of her goggles, Emily saw a huge, spectral figure creep into view. Moving gracefully and silently.

As the figure moved closer, she realized it was a manta ray. The manta ray stopped, and barrel rolled right below them, filter feeding plankton as it moved.

Totally beguiled, Emily and her friends watched the manta rays circles around one another and gorge themselves for an hour.

The experience was eerie and enchanting. And it left Emily wondering — what more is there to these intelligent, entrancing fish?

Today, Emily poses all of her questions to Rachel Graham, the founder and executive director of MarAlliance, a marine conservation organization working in tropical seas.

Have you been completely captivated by an animal too? Share your story with us at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez, edited by Sara Sarasohn and fact-checked by Rasha Aridi. Josh Newell was the audio engineer. Special thanks to Erin Fulton, Adrienne Wilber and Big Island Divers in Hawaii — especially Captain Mike, Justin, Cosmo and Casey.