Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Manta Rays!

Rays in general are amazing and beautiful creatures. Manta Rays in particular are the biggest of the Rays. They seem to glide effortlessly through the water, with graceful movements. Manta Rays are also very mysterious animals to us, because there are a lot of things that humans do not know about them.

cute and squishy!

beautiful markings on underside.

Manta Rays have unique patterns on their undersides; the colors are different depending on the area they are from. For example, Manta Rays from the eastern Pacific often have mostly black undersides, while Manta Rays from the western Pacific are usually white underneath.

Manta Rays are known to jump high out of the water! The meaning of these jumps is unknown, but possible reasons could be:

- communication with other rays
- mating ritual
- avoiding predators/disturbances
- they are just having fun!

Manta Rays nibble on plankton, krill, fish larvae, and other small organisms. They obtain their food through a filtering process as they swim. As the Manta Ray swims through the ocean, the water is filtered through its gills, trapping any particles.

Small fish often feed on parasites on the Manta Rays' skin. This is a mutualistic symbiotic relationship, where the small fish obtain food and the Manta Ray is cleaned of harmful parasites. 

Manta Rays also migrate to find food, although their exact route is unknown. 

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