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Manta Rays

Manta rays are highly intelligent and threatened are the biggest rays around the globe.

The sea creatures live in subtropical, tropical, and temperate oceans across the globe. “Manta” means blanket or cloak in Spanish, describing the look of the animals’ big body, flat, diamond-shaped, which are characterized by triangular pectoral fins. Manta rays have two horn-shaped fins that extend at the front of their heads. This has earned them the name “devil fish.”

Manta Rays

For a long time, scientists believed there was just one species of manta ray. In 2008, researchers discovered that there are two distinct species which include the reef manta-ray that lives along coastlines in the Indo-Pacific, and the giant oceanic manta ray, which is found in all of the oceans around the globe, and spends the majority of its existence away from the shoreline.

The reef manta ray has an impressive wingspan of around 11 feet in width on average and the huge manta ray from the ocean, which is the largest species of ray — can have a wingspan of up to 29 feet.

Habitat and food

Manta rays of both species are filter feeders: they are able to swim with their mouths wide open, drawing in Zooplankton and Krill as they sift through row after row of micro rakes that line their mouths called 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 live alone or in small groups typically congregating to feed. They’re considered predators and hunt beneath the ocean’s surface.

Manta rays regularly go to cleaning stations, spots on coral reefs, where sea animals go to be cleaned by smaller fish. they are able to remain for many minutes while cleaner fish remove any parasites or dead skin. Many mantas rays will return to the same places repeatedly.

Intelligence

Mantas rays have the largest brain-to-size ratio of all cold-blooded fish. Research has shown that mantas rays may recognize themselves in the mirror which is a sign of their high cognitive capacity, that is also observed in primates, dolphins, and elephants.

Studies have also revealed that manta rays are able to create mentally-mapped maps of their surroundings by smelling and visual cues, indicating highly developed long-term memory.

Reproduction

Female mantas rays hit sexual maturity at around eight up to 10 years of age. They generally give birth every couple of years, usually to one pup or , occasionally, two. The duration of pregnancy is between 12 and 13 months. Mantas Rays give birth to live pups. They look like smaller versions of adult mantas rays once born and are able to survive without the parental attention.

Manta rays are believed to live for 50 years.

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