Manta Rays, highly intelligent and threatened are the biggest rays around the globe.
Sea creatures reside in tropical, subtropical and temperate oceans across the world. “Manta” means blanket or cloak in Spanish and refers to the appearance of the creatures’ huge diamond-shaped, flat bodies that are distinguished by pectoral fins that are triangular. Manta rays sport two fins shaped like horns that protrude from their front heads. This has earned them the name “devil fish.”
For a long time, scientists believed there was only one manta ray species. In 2008, scientists discovered that there were actually two distinct species that include the reef manta ray that is found on the coasts of the Indo-Pacific and the massive oceanic manta raythat is found in all of the oceans of the world, and spends the majority of its time away from the land.
Although the reef manta has a stunning wingspan of around 11 feet wide , on average The giant oceanic manta ray, the largest species of ray–can boast a wingspan that can reach 29 feet.
Habitat and food
Manta rays of both species are filter feeders. They are able to swim with their mouths open, allowing the zooplankton and krill that they filter through a series of tiny rakes which line their mouths, referred to as the gill plates. They use creative techniques when feeding, often doing repeated somersaults to stay in a single spot that is packed with krill, or chain-feeding–following each other in a circle, mouths open, to create a cyclone effect, trapping food in a spiral.
Giant manta rays are found alone or in small groups generally congregating to feed. They’re considered to be predators, and hunt below the ocean’s surface.
Manta rays regularly go to cleaning stations, which are spots in coral reefs that sea creatures go to get cleaned up by other animals. they remain still for a few minutes while cleaner fish clean dead skin and parasites. Manta rays from all kinds of species return to the same spots repeatedly.
Manta rays possess the highest brain-to-size ratio among cold-blooded fish. Research has shown that manta rays can recognize themselves in mirrors which is a sign of high cognitive functioning, which is also demonstrated by dolphins, primates and elephants.
Research has also proven that manta rays have the ability to construct mentally-mapped maps of their surroundings by smelling and visual signals, which indicate a highly developed long-term memory.
Manta rays reach sexual maturity between eight up to 10 years of age. They typically give birth every few years, typically to one pup or sometimes two. The pregnancy lasts between 12 and 13 months, and manta rays have live puppies. The babies look like miniature versions of adult manta rays after they are born and are able to survive without the care of parents.
Manta Rays can live up to 50 years.