Manta Ray Introduction:
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.
The Manta Ray is a solitary animal and is also a graceful swimmer. Like other large species of fish, Manta Rays swim by moving their pectoral fins up and down which propels their enormous body through the surrounding water.
The short tail of the Manta Ray also allows the ray to be more acrobatic with its movement, and they have been seen leaping out of the water. Manta Rays are known to frequently visit cleaning stations where small fish such as wrasse and angelfish swim in the ray’s gills and over its skin to feed, in the process cleaning it of parasites and dead tissue.
Manta rays are generally not interested in eating these smaller fish as they are providing a great service to the Manta Ray. Unlike many sharks, Manta Rays do not actually have teeth and instead sieve food particles out of the water using rows of tiny plates in their mouths, which they funnel in their mouths as they swim.
Manta Rays eat tiny marine organisms including microscopic plankton, small fish and crustaceans. Despite its large size, the relatively docile nature of the Manta Ray means that it is actually preyed upon by a number of large marine predators. Large species of sharks such as the great white sharks, killer whales and humans are known to hunt the manta ray.
Keywords to learn
Cartilage: Firm, flexible connective tissue found in various forms in the larynx and respiratory tract, in structures such as the external ear, and in the articulating surfaces of joints.
Wrasse: A marine fish with thick lips and strong teeth.
Hey Kids, my name is Makepeace the Manta Ray and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @ www.kids.nationalgeographic.com
Key Manta Ray Data:
Lifespan:15 – 20 years
Scientific Name:Manta Birostris.
Mass:1,600 kg. (3527 pounds)
Length:6m – 9m. (19.7ft – 29.5ft)
Population Status:Near threatened.
Current population trend:Decreasing.
Sexual maturity:8-10 years.
Manta Rays are weird looking but beautiful fish. They are quite rare in the sea compared to other fish that swim in shoals. So, for fishermen they are hard to catch.
Now that you know more about the Manta Ray by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download question on the Manta Ray here: Manta Ray (answers are on this page)
Manta Ray Fun Facts for Kids:
- # 1. After mating the female Manta Ray lays a couple of eggs which actually develop and then hatch inside her. This process is known as aplacental viviparity and is commonly seen in the reproduction of a number of shark and ray species.
- # 2. Within 6 weeks of hatching, the female Manta Ray gives birth to 1 or 2 pups, which develop into large adults fairly fast.
- # 3. Today, although the Manta Ray is not considered to be a species that is in imminent danger of extinction in the wild, the population numbers have been declining quickly in recent years.
- # 4. Manta Rays are particularly susceptible to pollution in the water and are quickly affected by overfishing in certain areas, and therefore a lack of food.
- # 5. The manta, unlike other rays, does not have a spine on its tail for defense.
- # 1. How long can a Manta Ray grow to?
- # 2. Name 3 predators of the Manta Ray.
- # 3. What is the average lifespan of the Manta Ray?
- # 4. Name 2 reasons the Manta Ray population is declining.
- # 5. Do Manta Rays have a spine on their tail like other rays?