Monday, July 30, 2007

Manta ray fact sheet

Manta birostris | Manta ray

Mantas are the largest species of the rays and are closely related to mobula rays. Their distribution is circumglobal, mostly throughout tropical and subtropical waters, although they can also be found in temperate waters. Their tail is similar to that of stingrays, except that they have lost their stinger, making them safe to dive with. An average-sized manta ray is estimated to filter 20 - 30 kg of planton per day. The cephalic fins on the head uncurl and help guide food into the mouth. Mantas have about 300 ros of peg-like teeth that are not sued for feeding and are often indistinguishable from the denticles (scales) inside the mouth. The peg-like teeth may play a role in courtship and mating. Mantas can be seen leaping out of the water, which may be a display, a quick escape from predators or a way of ridding their skin of parasites. Mantas are threatened by fisheries pressure due to a growing market for manta gill rakers. A mature manta can yield up to 7 kg of dried gills that retail for as much as US$500/kg in Asian markets. Manta rays are listed as "vulnerable" on the IUCN redlist.

• Adult: 4 m (maximum 6.7 m)
• Pup: 1.2 m

• Average: 1,350 kg
• Maximum 2,400 kg

Global population: Unknown

Status: Vulnerable (population decreasing)

Diet: Plankton, small fish and fish larvae

Teeth: 18 rows in the lower jaw

Longevity: c.25 years

Breeding size:
• Male: 3.6 - 3.8 m
• Female: 3.8 - 4 m

Gestation: 9 - 12 months or more (1 - 2 pups each time)

In other languages
Portuguese: Manta
French: Manta
German: Manta rochen
Danish: Djævlerokke
Finnish: Paholaisrausku

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