Manta Ray facts and information:Scientific Name: Manta birostris
Size: 3 to 7 metres
What is a manta ray?The manta ray (Manta birostris) is the largest ray and one of the largest living fish. Like sharks, rays have skeletons composed of cartilege, unlike other fish which have skeletons of bone. If you are lucky enough to see a manta ray underwater it is likely to be one of the most graceful sights you will encounter. However, they can also swim very fast and even leap clear of the water.
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What does a manta ray look like?The manta ray can reach immense sizes of three to seven metres (with reports of large specimens measuring more than nine metres) from wing tip to wing tip. They are greyish blue to greenish brown on the upper surface and pale underneath. Manta rays have prominent feeding flaps—fleshy extensions of the pectoral fins—on each side of the head. The eyes are at the top of these flaps. There are five gill slits on each side of the underside of the head. The whip-like tail is relatively short and there is no stinging spine. Males can be identified by a pair of external claspers. You can often see remoras or suckerfish attached to manta rays. The suckerfish have a large sucking disk on the top of the head with which they attach themselves to larger fish. These ‘hitchhikers' benefit from feeding on scraps of food dropped by the host or feed on skin parasites.
Where do manta ray live?Manta rays are found over areas of continental shelf throughout the world's tropics and subtopics. The manta ray is very common in tropical waters of Australia, including Ningaloo Marine Park, Muiron Islands Marine Management Area, Montebello Islands Marine Park, the proposed Dampier Archipelago Marine Park and the Rowley Shoals Marine Park. Many visitors to the Ningaloo Marine Park see and even swim with these large rays on the western side of Ningaloo Reef where they are relatively common. Charter operators at Ningaloo offer tours to snorkel with the mantas. Manta rays occasionally find their way into temperate waters and one was photographed as far south-east as the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park in 2007.
What does a manta ray eat?The manta ray is a harmless filter feeder, taking in water and food through its mouth . It only has very small teeth, but has modified denticles on each gill arch that is used to filter plankton from the water.
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Manta Ray Coloring pagesPrint free Manta Ray coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.
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