Every living organism requires the simple act of being cleaned. Apes pick fleas off each other; birds take dust baths and felines lick their way to a shiny coat. There is a creature which graces the waters of Papua New Guinea that requires the help of another species all together. To ensure its cleanliness and health, the magnificent Manta Ray takes a trip to a special cleaning station just off Gona Bara Bara Island for some parasitic pampering.
So what is a cleaning station exactly? Images of a Manta Ray like carwash may come to mind, but it’s a lot more interesting than that. Mantas suffer from parasites which are tiny organisms that live parasitically on their hosts. If they are not removed the Rays can become infested, and organ failure can occur. The Mantas are unable to remove the parasites themselves so they head to a local cleaning station, a special part of the reef, where there is a large rock or a ‘bommie’. A bommie is a natural spire covered in coral that rises from the sea floor.