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The group of remoras hitch a ride underneath this ocean-going Manta Ray as it glides in to a coral reef where cleaner fish live and wait to remove the parasites and ocean growth from the manta. They are gentle creatures and will often approach divers in order to satisfy their curiosity. Divers can interact with them near cleaning stations like this one under a set of guidelines. They are so big that when they swim overhead it’s as if a cloud has blocked the sun, they move like a magic carpet in the water with unparalleled grace and speed.
Manta Ray - Manta Birostris
Manta Rays are large rays. The larger species, M. birostris, reaches 7m in width, while the smaller, M. alfredi, reaches 5.5m. Both have triangular pectoral fins, horn-shaped cephalic fins and large, forward-facing mouths. Mantas are found in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical waters. They are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they gather with their open mouths as they swim. However, research suggests that they are actually deep sea predators, feeding on fish and other organisms that inhabit areas of the sea between 200–1,000m below the surface. They are listed as vulnerable, threats include pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and direct harvesting for their gill rakers for use in Chinese medicine. They are protected in international waters. Nikon D300 Nikkor 10.5mm f2.8 Fisheye lens, 1/160 sec @ f10, ISO 200, Sea & Sea Housing and Two Sea & Sea YS250, strobes on ¼ power. Taken on scuba at 27m at Amazon dive site off Tofo, Mozambique
Photograph by Andrew Woodburn
This phalanx of storks was getting ready to roost, enjoying the last rays of the African sun in the famous Kruger Park in February. They have migrated south and therefore are not nesting but will forage for frogs, fish, insects, earthworms, small birds and mammals daily before heading north for the European summer. They created this iconic African sunset image, adding their unique silhouettes to the setting summer sun during a sunset game drive.
Yellow-billed Stork - Mycteria ibis
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks dwell in many regions and tend to live in drier habitats. Storks tend to use soaring, gliding flight, which conserves energy. Storks are heavy, with wide wingspans, and their nests are often very large and may be used for many years. Storks were once thought to be monogamous, but this is only partially true. They may change mates after migrations, and may migrate without a mate. Storks’ size, serial monogamy, and faithfulness to an established nesting site contribute to their prominence in mythology and culture. Nikon D7000, DX format, Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 APO DG OS lens @ 500mm, 1/640 sec @ f7.1, ISO 100, -0.3EV. Taken near Olifants Rest Camp, Kruger Park, South Africa.