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Manta Ray

Manta Ray


Manta Ray Baby
Manta Ray Baby

Manta Ray Habits

The manta ray is found both inshore and offshore in the warmer oceans. Although mantas can be found on the seabed, they spend much of their time feeding near the ocean's surface. Large species of ray, such as the manta, tend to be solitary, although they are often accompanied by a shoal of pilot fish. While feeding, small and medium-sized species of ray may form shoals.
The manta ray has long been regarded by fishermen as dangerous. Stories of mantas killing scuba divers and deliberately jumping onto small boats are numerous, but unsubstantiated. However, the manta's habit of circling small boats can be frightening to those aboard. And, although mantas do occasionally jump onto boats, the damage they cause is thought to be accidental. In the process of leaping out of the water, done possibly as an aid in giving birth or for sport, manta rays have wrecked small boats, earning them the name devilish.

Manta Ray Communication

Mantas sometimes breach, leaping partially or entirely out of the water. Individuals in a group may make aerial jumps one after the other. These leaps come in three forms: forward leaps where the fish lands head first, similar jumps with a tail first re-entry or somersaults. The reason for breaching is believed to be one of their forms of communication.

Manta Ray Breeding

Manta rays bear live young. The single fertilized egg develops inside the mother. The gestation period is unknown. It appears that mantas do not breed until their winglike pectoral fins reach a length of 13-15 feet. There is no specific breeding season: males and females mate year round. The newborns are fairly large, weighing 20-30 pounds, have fins that span 4 feet, and can generally protect themselves from predators.

Manta Ray Food & Feeding

Manta rays feed mainly on shrimp and plankton, although they will occasionally eat small fish such as mullet.
The manta's gill arches help it to feed by operating as a filtration system. During respiration, water is sucked in through the mouth and pumped out through the gill slits. The plankton that is sucked into the manta's mouth along with the water is caught by the gill arches and siphoned into its stomach. When mantas encounter a shoal of fish, they quickly move in to feed, swallowing as many fish as they can.

Manta Ray Key Facts

              Height: Length: 10-16 feet. Span: 14-20 feet
              Weight: Estimated at up to 3,000 pounds
             Sexual maturity: When winglike pectoral fins reach a length of 13-15 feet
             Mating: Year round
             Gestation: 13 months
             Number of young: 1
            Habit: Large specimens solitary; smaller fish may move in shoals of five or six in food-rich areas
            Diet: Mainly shrimp and plankton; occasionally small fish such as mullet
            Lifespan: 20 years



  • Manta rays can grow to a huge size: it is common for fin spans to reach more than 20 feet. One 17-foot long manta caught in the Bahamas had fins that spanned 22 feet.
  • The word manta is Spanish for cloak or blanket. When swimming, the manta resembles a spread-out cape.
  • The blue whale, basking shark, and whale shark have feeding systems similar to the manta's.
  • While the Manta Ray has many rows of sharp teeth, they arenít used for eating. Instead they have a filtering system.
  • The movement of their fins through the water is very similar to that of a bird flapping its wings.

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