Oceanic Manta Ray

Creature Feature – Oceanic Manta Ray

Manta Rays are the largest rays in the world, and can be found in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters across the globe. “Manta” means blanket or cloak in Spanish and describes the look of the animals’ large, flat, diamond-shaped bodies, characterized by triangular pectoral fins. 

For decades, scientists thought there was just one species of manta ray. In 2008, researchers discovered that there are actually two distinct species: the reef manta ray, which tends to live along coastlines in the Indo-Pacific, and the giant oceanic manta ray, which lives in all the world’s major oceans, spending most of its life far from land

Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta Trust


Scientific Name: Mobula birostris

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Order: Myliobatiformes

Family: Mobulidae

Genus: Mobula

© Manta Trust 

Oceanic Manta Ray Fact File

? Size: Individuals can have a wingspan of up to 7m (23ft) and weigh up to 2000kg

? Distribution: Oceanic manta rays are widely distributed throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions, overlapping with reef mantas across a large proportion of this range

? Diet: Filtering zooplankton through their gill plates, a mantas diet consists of copepods, mysid shrimp, crab larva, mollusc larva and fish eggs

? Behaviour: When travelling in deep water, the giant oceanic manta ray swims steadily in a straight line, while further inshore it usually basks or swims idly around. Mantas may travel alone, or in groups of up to 50. They sometimes associate with other species, such as fish, sea birds and marine mammals

? IUCN Status: Endangered. Like many ocean animals, oceanic mantas are declining in numbers. Key threats include: entanglement in fishing apparatus, demand for their gill plates and climate change. Climate change affects the abundance of zooplankton that they prey upon