The manta ray is a large species of flattened fish, closely related to other cartilaginous fish such as sharks. The manta ray is the largest species of ray in the world with some manta ray individuals reaching up to 9 meters wide.
The manta ray is most commonly found in the warmer, tropical of waters of the world's oceans, typically around coral reefs and along the continental shelves where food is in abundance. However, due to their enormous size, manta rays are also commonly spotted hunting out in the open ocean.
Here are some amazing facts about Manta Ray:
1. Except during mating season, mantas are not known to be social; however, the great fish regularly congregate in areas with plentiful food.
2. Like most reef fishes, mantas regularly attend cleaning stations where certain species of fishes pick parasites from their hovering bodies.
3. Mantas give birth every other year to a single pup, or a pair of four-foot pups that arrive rolled up like burritos.
4. It is not known why mantas leap from the water. Theories abound: to impress females, to help control parasites, to escape predators, or as a means of intraspecific communication.
5. Mantas can grow to nearly 25 feet from wingtip to wingtip, live for a quarter century, and will consume about 60 pounds of plankton and small fish each day by filter feeding.
6. Mantas and their smaller kin, mobulas, were once tagged with the unflattering name “devilfish” because the cephalic lobes attached to each side of their mouths resemble horns. When extended, the flattened lobes help direct food into their mouths.
7. Currently only two species of mantas have been scientifically described, although a third, similar-appearing species inhabiting the Caribbean and Atlantic is suspected.
8. Although useless and nonfunctioning, a manta has approximately 300 rows of skin-covered teeth in its lower jaw.
Today, although the manta ray is not considered to be a species that is in imminent danger of extinction in the wild, the manta ray population numbers have been declining more quickly in recent years. Manta rays are particularly susceptible to pollution in the water and are quickly affected by over fishing in certain areas, and therefore a lack of food.
About Author: The author of this blog has done research on diving in goa.