Photo of the Week: Manta Ray Leap

To use the term “amazing” about some of the things I experienced on my Galapagos Tour with Gecko’s Adventures would not be doing proper justice to the experiences.  From chasing a shark through a rocky pass to swimming next to giant sea turtles, many of these great adventures took park in, on, or around the water.  One experience I never imagined I’d have was watching giant manta rays jumping meters out of the water.   This never happened right next to the boat, but whenever it happened you knew it was happening thanks to a cheer from passengers looking out to the open waters.  They say that the manta ray jumps from the waters like this to shake itself free of a parasitic fish that follows it through the waters.  Regardless of the reasons, seeing this happen was not short of “amazing”.

Manta Ray Leap

 How I got this Shot

Quite simple actually, I was prepared.  If you have a selection of lenses you should always have the one that you’re most likely to need a quick trigger shot on.  For example, if I have a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens and I’m walking around an amazing landscape that has quite a bit of wildlife I’m going to have telephoto lens attached to the camera.  Why?  Because it is much more likely that I am going to need the telephoto to try to capture a quick moment from the wildlife.  In the time it takes to change the lens, the animal will probably be gone.  The landscape, on the other hand, aren’t going anywhere.  Even in situations as “normal” as being on a boat, where you’re more likely to shoot a wide angle shot, you should have that longer lens on in case something out of the ordinary pops out of the water.  If I had to change lenses for this shot, I would have missed it.

I shot this image with a 70-200mm lens at 200mm, f/4, 1/800 seconds.  ISO 100.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. This is pretty cool. I have never seen this before, nor have I even heard of jumping manta rays.

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  2. I love your photo of the week posts, Brendan! The pics are always beautiful and I love the way you explain how you took the shot.

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    • Thanks a lot Jolien

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    • hahahah… Christy, I think it’s best you stay inland. haha

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  3. Holy crap that is awesome. I really want to snorkel with Manta Rays as well as Blue Whales. Had no idea that they could leap out of the water like that!

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    • @Cole – In the Galapagos we saw a couple while snorkeling, they are amazing.

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  4. Brilliant shot! I’ve never seen one jumping out the water like that!

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    • Thanks Michelle, It’s a very cool experience

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  5. Hilarious! A very rare shot indeed. Well done.

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  6. Nice shot, Brendan! I remember seeing rays doing this in Sanibel ISland, FL and wondering what they were jumping to get away from (sharks?). But when we were in Galapagos the guides said they do it to get stuff off their skins. Beautiful creatures!

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    • @Bret – Yeah, our guide said that there’s a parasitic fish that follows them and clings to them as they swim, so they jump to get them off of them. So amazing.

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