Manta rays are cartilaginous fishes which are related to sharks and all other rays. Manta rays evolved from their close relatives around five million years ago, and they’re totally harmless; being without teeth or a venomous tail spine.

The origin of their common name is related to a myth, which claims that centuries ago Spanish fishermen were frightened by a huge sea creature, resembling a giant cloak (‘manta’ in Spanish), that would wrap them up and drown them if they fell into the sea.

Swim-with-manta tourism activities have increased significantly in the last few decades, in some cases, resulting in poor human behaviour leading to increased stress and harm of the manta rays and their habitat.

For this reason, we are disseminating a code of conduct (based on recommendations by the Manta Trust) that aims to reduce these unsustainable and negative interactions.

The code of conduct is applicable to all tour operators and tourists who want to undertake responsible tourism activities, and protect manta rays.

Many manta rays swimming together in the ocean

The Standard for Manta Ray Watching

Friend of the Sea Sustainable Manta Ray Watching standard seeks to minimise unintentional disturbance through key principles of conduct.

Friend of the Sea criteria for Sustainable Manta Ray Watching require:

  • don’t touch manta rays;
  • minimum distance from manta rays;
  • how to swim with manta rays;
  • training programmes for operators and crew;
  • scientific data collection;
  • no single-use plastic onboard.

Apply to Manta Ray Viewing

Would you like to receive a quotation for Friend of the Sea audit and royalties to use our logo?
Please fill out the online Preliminary Information Form (PIF) and send back to


  • All the information will be kept strictly confidential and implies NO commitment from your company.
  • The Friend of the Sea certification is voluntary and NOT mandatory to gain access to markets.
  • The application process is NOT discriminatory on size, scale, management and minimum number of operators.
  • Friend of the Sea is a NGO and it strives to make participation in the audits affordable for all companies.
  • Please, contact us for more information on Government funding which might be available in your Country for sustainability certifications: