Manta Rays: Giant Manta

Manta birostris
Giant Manta
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GIANT MANTA
Manta birostris

 

Identification
Dark brown to black above, white below.  Pectoral fins ("wings") long and pointed.  Two large cephalic fins (rostra) protruding from front of head.  Mouth wide, terminal.  Tail whip-like, but shorter than the length of body and with no spine.

Habitat
Pelagic, mainly in near-shore waters, near coral and rocky reefs; sometimes found over deep water near water's surface.  Sometimes penetrates shallow muddy bays and intertidal areas, and occurs off river mouths.

Feeding
Mainly plankton feeders, but may feed on small and moderate-sized fishes as well.

Reproduction
Aplacental viviparity; up to two pups per litter.

Size/Age
World's largest ray.  Wingspan of up to 29.5 feet with an average around 22 feet.  Individuals may weigh as much as 4,000 pounds. Maximum reported age of 20 years.

Human Factors
Protected in Florida state waters.  Often viewed swimming slowly near surface.  Easily approached. May be seen leaping out of the water, possibly as part of mating behavior or to dislodge ectoparasites.  Of little danger to humans.



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