The Hawaiian name 'hahalua' is best interpreted as ‘two breaths' (ha, meaning breath, and lua, meaning two.) All the other types of Hawaiian rays are referred to by the Hawaiian names of either 'lupe' or 'hihimanu'. The Hawaiian word 'lupe' means magnificent and 'hihimanu' best translates to 'elegant bird'. The Hawaiian manta ray may not have a barbed, poisonous stinger, but they do possess possibly the largest brains of all known fish on Earth. Manta rays have their gills located on the lower, underside of their bodies, where they process their oxygen from the water like all other fish. You may be fortunate to catch a glimpse of a manta ray jumping out of water.
Marine biologists believe that this is a practice to remove irritating parasites from their bodies and a possible form of communication. Some marine experts have suggested that we are observing the unique behavior of an advanced, big-brained fish participating in complex gameplay! Intelligent mammals like dolphins are known to be highly social with human beings, this is not the case with potentially highly-intelligent manta rays who naturally avoid human contact. If you really want to observe and experience these graceful, gentle creatures in their natural underwater environment, visit the Kona Coast to observe and interact with friendly and curious manta rays at night. There are designated areas for snorkelers and divers. Freediving is not allowed. Visitors are permitted the option of participating in night dives to observe Hawaiian manta rays yet touching the rays is strictly prohibited.