Beauty Of Animal | Manta Ray | Manta ray is the largest and biggest species of the rays. Manta rays are swim in tropical seas, living both close to shore and in open seas. They can be found throughout tropical waters across the world where they often congregate around coral reefs. They are also called Atlantic manta, Pacific manta, Devilfish, and only Manta. There are few sights more awe inspiring for scuba divers than watching manta rays performing their graceful somersaults. These magnificent creatures are frequently seen feeding alone or in small groups near the surface at Thailand scuba diving sites such as Koh Bon, Komodo and Irian Jaya in Indonesia, the Maldives, Black Rock in Myanmar, Kadavu in Fiji, and other near shore waters near coral and rocky reefs.
Manta rays have graceful pectoral fins like wings. They are easily recognized by their paddle-like cephalic lobes projecting forward from the front of the head (actually extensions of the pectoral fins, supported by radial cartilages), and a very broad, rectangular terminal mouth. Manta rays may have different color from black, grey-blue, to red-brown on the upper surface of their cartilage body, sometimes with white shoulder patches and blotches, and almost pure white on the lower surface of their pectoral fins and body disc. Their body patterns show individual variation and helps identify individuals.
There are also regional differences in Manta ray color patterns. For example, specimens from the eastern Pacific often feature dusky to mostly black under surfaces, while those from the western Pacific are typically snow white underneath. Although it is not difficult to recognise an adult Manta ray, but the juveniles are similar to Mobula rays. Mobula rays are most readily distinguished by the position of the mouth - Mobula rays have sub-terminal mouths (located underneath the head, similar to many sharks), while Manta rays have terminal mouths (located at the front of the head).
Manta rays have about 300 rows of tiny, peg-like teeth, each about the size of the head of a pin. The crown of each tooth has a blunt surface with three weak ridges. These teeth are often indistinguishable from the denticles (scales) inside the mouth and are not used for feeding. They may play a role in Manta courtship and mating. Manta rays eat microscopic plankton, small fish, and tiny crustaceans. They funnel the food into their mouth while they swim, using two large, flap-like cephalic lobes which extend forward from the eyes. Only large warm-water sharks, such as the Tiger Shark are known to prey upon Mantas.
Manta rays are most commonly seen during daylight hours because that's when most observers are most active. We have virtually no idea what Mantas do at night or how active they are. Manta rays courtship seems to feature prolonged chasing, which would be best accomplished in clear, open water during the day. Manta rays may feed most actively at night, when many planktonic creatures rise surfaceward, providing a rich bounty on which Manta rays may feed.
Manta rays are an active swimmer, occupying all parts of the water column, particularly mid water and near surface - whereas bottom dwelling and more sedentary species of rays would be more susceptible to capture by trawl operations. Manta rays may have little affinity for open deep water and prefer areas in contact with coastal or reef/island features, areas where trawlers do not work. While little is known about the current status of manta rays in Australia it is assumed because their distribution appears to cover a broad geographic area and there are few identified threats, that their populations are secure. Manta rays are not currently protected by any fisheries legislation in Australia.
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