The Flying Fish – Manta Ray

Manta Ray

Image Credit: Flickr User Manta Ray Belly, via CC

If you were to go underwater diving, you would see this fish soaring high as an eagle. Manta rays or the Eagle rays as they are called are very interesting creatures. They are mostly found in the warm waters of the tropical seas. Do they really fly? Umm Nope! It appears as if they are flying because of their side fins that are wide and triangular in shape. Manta rays moves by flapping the fins up and down. Don’t underestimate manta rays as their fins could be as long as nineteen ft. Phew! How tall are you?

Looking at manta rays from a distance, it would appear as if a blanket is moving around. Hence, its name ‘manta’ as it means blanket in Spanish. In its lifespan of 20 years, manta ray never stops swimming. All play and no rest :) I bet you would do the same given a chance.

Manta rays scoop the food in their mouth using paddle like organs at each corner of its mouth called cephalic lobes. They are also known as devil fish because of their horn-shaped lobes like the devil’s horns. They scoop in huge amounts of zooplanktons as they keep the mouth open while swimming. They are pretty smart too considering they have the largest brain to body ratio. That would surely make dolphins jealous :)

Otherwise, happy, they are usually bothered by parasites, a problem that they take care of by going to the cleaning station. What? Well, animals are smart, and they have friends in unlikely places. A cleaning station is usually on top of a coral reef and is full of cleaner fish like cleaner shrimp, wrasses and gobies. When a fish that needs cleaning reaches the cleaning station, they open their mouth to signal that. The cleaner fishes would then eat the parasites off the skin, and sometimes swim inside the mouth of that fish. Very interesting! A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Mama manta rays keep the eggs inside their bodies and give birth to live pups. The pups playfully leap out of the water and land with a loud snap.They keep cartwheeling like this one after the other. Why? No one knows. Maybe they try to communicate with each other or may be just playing. Manta rays are not as friendly as dolphins, but they do enjoy human touch. They like to glide with the humans. However, if they are surrounded by too many divers, they become wary and swim away.

The manta ray is among the largest marine species living in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Check it out in this video –

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