CHOO CHOO . . . It’s Manta Ray Train4
High on the priority list of creatures to see for all divers is the majestic manta ray.. These are highly intelligent creatures with many showing a remarkable ability to interplay with divers and snorkellers. In fact, they have the largest brain-to-body ratio of all sharks and rays which may explain this playfulness
Mantas are the largest of the rays that glide through the water much like birds through the air. Closely related to the shark, these gentle giants feed on plankton, fish larvae and the like, filtered from the water passing through their gills as they swim.
Mantas live in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. They prefer open water close to the surface, only dropping to the floor to have parasites removed by cleaner wrasse
10 Facts about Manta Rays
1) The word Manta is Spanish for Blanket or Cloak and I’m sure you can see why. Refers to their large “blanket shaped” bodies.
2. In contrast to other stingrays who prefer digging through sandy sea bottom, manta rays cruise the open oceans and only get close to the sea bed to get cleaned.
3. Interactive minds: Manta rays have the largest brain to body weight ratio of any living fish giving it enough smarts to make the average dolphin jealous
4) Spots: Like leopard sharks, manta rays can be individually identified by the spots on the underside of their bodies.
5. Scoopers: While similar, the manta ray and the devil ray are actually two different species. The main point of difference is devil rays have pointier wings and horn-like cephalic fins compared to the manta’s round labrador ear-looking plankton scoopers.
6) Mantas pop out little manta pups every other year, conveniently rolled up like little burritos. However, the relatively slow reproduction rate makes them vulnerable to overfishing.
7) Flying: Manta rays are sometimes seen leaping out of the water like flying pizzas. The reasons for this behaviour is still a mystery to scientists, but some theories have attributed the behaviour to mating rituals, communication and removal of parasites.
8) Size: A fully grown oceanic manta ray can reach a wing span of up to 21-24 feet and weigh up to two tons while it’s smaller reef cousin grows to 14 feet and weigh a measly 1.5 tons.
9) Harmless: Despite its size, manta rays are completely harmless to humans with a non-functioning tail spine and 300 useless little teeth. Being filter feeders, the standard diet consists of crustaceans, plankton and small fish.
10) Manta rays are found in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide, between 35 degrees north and 35 degrees south latitude. Hot Spots: Mozambique (year round), Yap Islands, French Polynesia, Australia, Hawaii.
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