Manta rays, the species itself is a close relative to sharks. They are quite similar to the Whale Shark and the Basking shark, and the blue whale because they all eat tiny plankton. These rays have many amazing traits, including how highly intelligent they are, or maybe that they are the largest ray species in the world. There are 2 different species of manta rays, one being the Reef Manta ray and the other the Giant Manta Ray. It was only discovered that there are 2 species back in 2008. Manta rays are very intelligent animals, for example scientists have evidence that they might even be able to see and recognize themselves in the mirror. This has been shown in other species as well, like dolphins and elephants. Research on rays have also indicated that they have visual recognition in their area, which can help them find food. Manta rays scientific name is just “Manta” which is pretty much just a shortened version of the original name. A common nickname for the rays is “Devil fish” because of the fins at the top of their head which resemble horns on a devil. This species of rays are enthralling, considering how much there is to learn about them.
Manta rays have a very distinct appearance from other fish, it is easy to get mixed up between the branches of rays though considering they do look awfully similar. Giant Manta rays are the largest ray species in the world. These rays can have a width of 29 feet, while the other species Reef Manta Rays can reach widths of 11 feet. As mentioned before Manta Rays have devil like pectoral fins on the top of their head, (where they get their nickname from). Body wise, the rays are very large and flat. The rays' coloration is usually brown or black.
Manta rays are found in warm waters, usually along islands or continents. Though Giant Mantas due go on long migrations and could visit cold water areas for a short period of time. A riveting fact about the rays is that they are capable of diving 1000 meters under water, but usually only feed 10 meter deeps. Manta rays are filter feeders meaning they swim with their mouth open which allows them to filter plankton and other tiny food from the water.
Status of Conservation
As of now manta rays are considered vulnerable by the IUCN, their biggest threat is commercial fishing. Manta rays are killed for their meat and their Gill plates, the number of rays are slowly dwindling because it takes so long for manta rays to produce one another.