The largest rays in the world are manta rays. Mantas are split into at least two separate groups. Manta alfredi, which inhabits the reef, and Manta birᴏstris, which inhabits the Atlantic Ocean. Their ranges overlap and their similarities are evident, although the giant manta likes the open ocean, while the reef manta favors places with shallow trees.
The word “manta” actually translates to “mantle or cloak,” which accurately characterizes the form of the animal. Manta rays have huge heads, triangular pectoral fins, and ventral gill openings. The more bizarre “devil ray” is characterized by its horn-shaped cephalic fins. Both ray species feature sharp, rectangular teeth. Their skin denticles, color patterns, and pore sizes vary from one season to the next.
Description Of Mantas
The majority of mantas have noticeable “shoulders” and pale undersides and are either black or dark in color. The ventral surface may have dark markings. There are other black-only creations. M. birᴏstris has a spine close to its dorsal fin, however, it does not have one. M. birᴏstris can grow to a width of 7 m (23 ft), whereas M. alfredi can grow to a width of 5.5 m (18 ft).
The maximum weight of a large manta is 1350 kg (2980 lb). In order for oxygenated water to flow over their gills, manta rays must swim forward. The fish “fly” underwater by flapping their pectoral fins. Manta rays regularly pierce the air despite their size. The fish have one of the highest brain-to-body ratios, which is considered to make them exceptionally intelligent.
Where Manta Rays Are Found?
Around the world, manta rays can be found in both tropical and subtropical waters. However, they only venture into temperate waters when the water temperature is at least 20 degrees Celsius (68 F). They have been spotted as far north as North Carolina (31N) in the United States and as far south as New Zealand (36S).
Both species of fish are pelagic, which means they primarily inhabit the open ocean. They are abundant in crystal oceans from April through autumn. They can travel up to 1000 km (620 mi) and reside 1000 m (3300 ft) below the surface of the ocean. Manta rays can be seen near the surface all day long. They dig down more at night.
Manta rays consume krill, prawns, and crab larvae as they are filter feeders of zooplankton. Mantas are blind to smell and sight. Mantas herd their prey by swimming in circles around it while simultaneously allowing the current to collect the plankton. After then, the ray moves through the ball of fire with a relatively wide pen.
What Are The Threats To Mantas?
Overfishing is the biggest threat to manta rays. In contrast to M. alfredi, which is even more localized, M. birᴏstris is not widely dispersed throughout the oceans but rather is concentrated in regions that have the necessary food supplies. As a result, there is little indication of subpopulation mixing in their distributions. Due to their lengthy lifespans and slow reproduction rates, overfishing has the potential to drastically diminish local populations with little chance of their replacement by individuals from other areas.
Mantas have been pursued by both commercial and artisanal fisheries for their flesh and goods. They are frequently caught with harpoons, trawls, and nets. Mantas were once caught by fisheries in Australia and California for their skin, which was used to make abrasives and liver oil. Although its meat is edible and eaten in some nations, it lacks the appeal of other fish. Chinese medicine has recently started to demand their gill rakers, the cartilaginous structures guarding the gills.