Manta rays are beautiful and majestic animals that exude grace and elegance. For many, seeing a manta ray up close in the wild is a bucket list experience that will never be forgotten. For this lucky scuba diver, the encounter captured in this video was even more than she had ever hoped for and we see her reaction to performance that takes place within a few feet of her. Kristy is a seasoned scuba diver and underwater photographer who has taken her camera beneath the waves in the waters of Cayman Islands, Belize, Indonesia, Mexico, Cuba, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, and here in the Galapagos Islands. She has seen an incredible variety of wildlife ranging from whale sharks to minute crabs and shrimp that are visible only with a magnifier. And although she has dreamed of seeing manta rays up close, they have proven difficult to find and even more difficult to capture. But here, in a remote area of the Galapagos, something incredible happened. A massive congregation of giant manta rays appeared around Kristy and her scuba group. As they drifted along in a sheltered bay, the group came face to face with hundreds of these magnificent creatures. The mantas were involved in a complex seasonal courtship ritual. The looping and circling benefits the mantas in feeding but it also signals to the other mantas around that they are suitable and reading for mating. Oblivious to the divers throughout this spectacle, the mantas swam through and around the group as if they were not there. Several of the manta rays made intentional, close passes or they circled with what appeared to be curiosity. The result was a show that very few people are fortunate enough to ever witness. Kristy can be seen aiming her camera and hoping as she floats suspended in the turquoise water. In answer to her hopes, an enormous ray circles and loops right in front of her, allowing her to capture some of the most exciting pictures and video that she has ever gotten. When the moment is over, Kristy turns to her dive master and gives a triumphant fist pump. She cannot contain her joy and wonder. This encounter lasted for nearly an hour, until the group had stayed as long as they could before returning to the surface and to their boat. Manta rays are gentle and harmless animals. Despite their size, they have never attacked or harmed a human. They are stingrays, but their stingers have evolved into small and harmless structures. A manta ray cannot sting. They use their size and speed for defense, out swimming any predators. The recent death of the beloved Steve Irwin, aka Crocodile Hunter, gave rise to the belief that stingrays were vicious and dangerous to humans. This isolated incident has caused many to believe that stingrays will attack. Unless the rays are stepped on, injuries to humans are rare and deaths are even more rare. Manta rays are closely related to eagle rays, part of the shark family, and they are one of the biggest fish in the ocean. Among all the fish, they have the highest brain to body mass ratio. They display surprising cognitive ability and memory, even being able to pass the mirror test, indicating self awareness. Manta rays have been recorded looking at their reflection, but displaying different behaviours when compared with exposure to other manta rays. They have even been observed using the reflection to study areas of their own bodies that are hidden from their view, indicating curiosity about what they are looking at. Manta rays are loved and adored for many reasons and a scuba diver such as Kristy will remember an encounter like this for the rest of her life.