Dive at Cantarel Reef
A unique natural spectacle from December to February: eagle ray mating season. Not to be missed!
In December, the mating season of eagle rays begins. It is a natural event best observed up close in Cozumel‘s Cantarel Reef while diving beneath the sea.
Cantarel Reef is one of the marine areas offering a stunning sight—up to 20 rays can be seen swimming at about 78 feet deep, amidst sandbanks in moderate currents and strikingly scenic soft corals and sponges.
Distinguishing Between Rays and Manta Rays
Exploring the underwater world by scuba diving unveils details rarely known. It’s commonly believed that manta rays are affectionately called rays, yet there exists a clear distinction between the two.
One of the distinguishing factors is that rays swim low and close to the seabed, undulating their fins to bury themselves in the sand and evade predators. Conversely, manta rays always swim further out to sea, closer to the surface.
The Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari) and Its Habitat at Cantarel Reef
Below, are some characteristic facts about the rays that call Cozumel home. They are commonly found in coastal reef waters and bays.
They can reach lengths of up to 16 feet (including the tail) and span up to 10 feet from fin to fin. Weighing between 440 to 507 pounds, females are larger than males. They prefer to dwell in tropical and subtropical waters.
Five Fascinating Facts About Eagle Rays
- Each ray boasts unique color patterns, akin to a fingerprint.
- Rays are fish, but instead of bones, their skeletal structure is made of cartilage.
- They reach sexual maturity at seven years old, have a gestation period lasting 12 months, and give birth to 1 to 4 offspring.
- They breathe through lamellae gills located underneath their bodies, on their ventral side, with their eyes situated on the dorsal side.
- They exhibit social behaviors, especially during mating season, when they can be seen in large numbers.
Eagle rays are a key ecotourism attraction, so it is very important to preserve their habitat by promoting sustainable observation practices. When visiting, consult with professional, certified tour operators to guide you safely through exploration.
Cozumel, Quintana Roo, MéxicoSee map