The manta ray is the largest member of the ray family. The ray's eerie behavior of circling small fishing boats has earned it the name of "devilfish," though the manta ray is one of the most docile creatures in the sea. The ray's image and how it's fins propel it through the water add a sense of curiosity and mystery to the manta ray's character. Although many jump out of the water and accidently destroy small fishing boats, folk tales of them killing divers are falsely told.
Order : Batoidea
Family : Mobulidae
Genus and Species : Manta birostris
Average Length : Up to 16 feet
Average Wingspan : Up to 20 feet
Average Weight : Up to 3000 lbs
Diet : Mainly shrimp, plankton and small fish
Lifespan : Unknown
Food, Feeding and Hunting : The manta utilizes it's gills when it feeds. As it sucks water in, the gills open and allow water to be pumped out, while the plankton is restrained inside the ray's mouth. The gill arches then siphon the plankton to the manta ray's stomach for natural processing. A unique feeding habit has been observed when a manta encounters a shoal of fish. It opens it's mouth and moves into the shaol like a dark shadow. Swallowing as many fish as it can.
Breeding : Manta rays bear live young, from single fertilized eggs. It is believed that manta ray's do not breed until they reach a certain sexual maturaty which occurs when the pectoral fins reach between 13-to-15 feet. The manta ray has no specific breeding season, thus males and females breed year round. The new born mantas are fairly large, weighing in at about 25 lbs and poccessing an incredible wingspan of 4 feet.
Distribution : The manta ray is common in both inshore and offshore waters of the western Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
Conservation : Manta rays are not considered to be sport fish and are generally left alone by fisherman. They have no commercial value and there population is unknown.
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