Thursday, January 29, 2009

Manta Rays

Manta rays are the largest member of the ray family, growing up to 25 feet across. While most fish swim, rays fly gracefully through the water by flapping the edges of their fins like wings. Rays are actually relatives of sharks.

Manta rays are a favorite among divers because they are so large and beautiful, but also very gentle. They are said to often become curious about divers and interact with them. They have the largest brain-to-body ratio of any of the shark family. They are also sometimes found in groups or even large schools.

Manta rays are sometimes referred to as devil rays because of the hornlike projections around their mouths. These are actually used to funnel food into their gaping mouths. They feed exclusively on plankton, which they scoop into their mouths as they glide along the currents. Manta rays swim slowly, often doing loops and dives as they seek out plankton.

With their huge wingspan, one often wonders if they could fly. In some ways, they do. Rays have been observed leaping completely out of the water for short periods of time. Naturally gravity takes its toll but they get some considerable air time before plunging back under the waves.

If you want to see a giant manta ray in person, you can find one swimming along with 3 whale sharks in the Georgia Aquarium. I got to watch this graceful giant up close on my recent visit there.


Sierra said...

Yee! I love manta rays, every time I go to an aquarium that has them, that is the first place ill go, and the last place too. Ive always wanted to swim with one, or look at them while doing so.

NovaBlogger said...

Manta Rays really are fun to watch. Most fish are relaxing to watch as they dart along in an aquarium, but manta rays are especially graceful. They glide through the water so effortlessly in more of a dance than a swim. I would love to swim with one. Their natural curiosity and laid back attitude (and the fact that they aren't in any way dangerous) makes them ideal diving buddies.