Giant Oceanic Manta Ray Facts
|Size||Up to 23 ft (7 m)|
|Speed||5.5-7.5 mph (9-12 km/h)|
|Weight||Up to 2.4 tons|
|Lifespan||Up to 20 years|
|Food||Plankton, small fish|
|Habitat||Worldwide, particularly coasts, reefs and rocky shores|
|Scientific name||Manta birostris|
|Characteristics||Biggest manta ray in the world|
It Must Be Dangerous!
Giant oceanic manta rays have a long sting-like tail, are huge and swim through the oceans as noiselessly as bats. Who would be surprised to hear that sailors told horror stories about them in the 18th and 19th century? Yet, giant manta rays are completely harmless. They only feed on plankton, are rather tame and (other than the stingray) not poisonous.
Relaxed, More Relaxed, Giant Manta Ray
Giant manta rays are loners and do not defend a special territory against other rays. They do not fight, each one lives on its own and acts peacefully towards its fellow species during encounters.
I am Where The Food is
Giant manta rays cross the oceans searching for plankton and therefore can often be seen slightly below the water surface close to coral reefs. They “swallow” the water with their mouth to filter out the plankton.
Most rays swim with wavelike movements of their wings. Giant manta rays look like birds when flapping their long fins up and down.
In front of their eyes, giant manta rays have two moveable head fins. They look like little horns, and this is (in addition to their size) one reason why giant manta rays are also called “devilray”.
Would You Please Nibble at Me?
Giant manta rays do not take care of their personal hygiene themselves. Suckerfish (a species from the bass family) latch on sharks and rays with the suction plate on their heads. They don’t harm their “hosts” but rather help them to get rid of parasites by feeding on them. Sometimes giant manta rays also jump several meters up out of the water to shake off the pesky parasites when diving into the water surface again.
I Have Got Teeth, But I Do Not Bite
In their lower jaw, manta rays have a large number of teeth that are as small as pinheads. Yet, the rays do not use them to grind their food. Biologists assume that the ancestors of the giant manta rays used their teeth to chew their food, but that the teeth lost their function when rays started to change their diet to plankton.
The Biggest Giant Manta Ray
The record length of 29,8 ft (9.1 m) is not officially confirmed, yet large specimens can be up to 23 ft (7 m) long. In general, giant manta rays reach a length of about 13-16 ft (4-5 m). In Australia, there also exist devilrays with a length of just about 24 in (60 cm). They are called Mobula Diabolis. Cute!
Giant Manta Rays Are Friends, Not Enemies
There are only very few animals that feed on giant manta rays – one of them is the tiger shark.