Status: No special status.
Size: Up to 23 ft across; weight 3,000 lbs. or more.
Area: Tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Offspring: One or two live young every other year.
Predators: Large sharks.
· The manta ray is the largest ray and one of the five largest species of fish in the world.
· Manta is a Spanish word meaning “blanket.”
· The manta ray is also called the Atlantic ray or the giant devil ray.
· Manta rays have blue or green eyes.
Manta rays were once believed to be associated with the devil. Sailors spread myths that rays capsized boats by shooting out of the water and then flopping down on the surface, creating a large wave. They also believed that these large animals would hold a man in their large wings and hold him underwater until he drowned. Additionally, the fins at the side of their heads resemble devil’s horns. However, it has become obvious that manta rays are peaceful creatures who sometimes approach divers out of curiosity, but there is no record of a manta ray harming someone intentionally (although, their wings pack a powerful wallop and sometimes divers have gotten too close and gotten a blow by accident) and quite often, they will even shy away from people. Manta rays swim near the water’s surface, and eat small fish and vegetation by guiding food into the mouth with the small fins at the side of the head. They flap their large wings to move through the water or sometimes just drift, their wings floating on the water’s surface. Like whales, they can leap up to six feet out of the water, somersaulting before crashing back down on the surface with a huge splash.
Atlantic manta rays live in tropical and warm coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, usually close to the water’s surface, and not deeper than 120 metres. They can be found as far north as South Carolina during warm temperatures, and are frequently spotted near Bermuda and along the coast of Mexico. They’re not endangered because they don’t seem to be a favourite of hunters. Instead, they’re very popular in the tourist industry, with companies offering tourists the chance to swim alongside these huge, harmless fish.
Several males court one female during mating season, which occurs from December to April and the female gives birth to one or two live young after a gestation period of thirteen months. The young rays weigh up to twenty pounds and emerge with their wings rolled up around them. As soon as they unroll their wings, they begin to swim. They reach full adult maturity by five years, when they begin to be capable of reproducing. The average life span of a manta ray is 16 to 20 years.