Top 10 Manta Facts

Seeing manta rays is no doubt on many a diver’s bucket list. These large, acrobatic, graceful and harmless marine creatures capture the imagination and hearts of every one who has dived with them — and plenty of those who haven't yet had the chance.

Here are 10 quick facts about mantas, with something to learn for everyone from the beginner diver all the way to those who’ve already had a few manta encounters. (You lucky folk.)

  1. Manta rays are a large form of eagle ray and join them in the classification family Myliobatidae.
  2. There are two types of manta: The reef manta and the giant oceanic manta. Can you guess which is larger?
  3. Despite their size, mantas eat only the tiniest life forms in the ocean: zooplankton.
  4. A manta’s triangular pectoral fin can have a wingspan of nearly 23 feet.
  5. Mantas are also called devilfish or devil rays, as the fins at the front of the manta’s head are said to resemble the Devil’s horns.
  6. When using cleaning stations mantas can remain virtually in the same position for a few minutes.
  7. Like whales and dolphins, mantas breach, but it is not fully known why.
  8. A manta’s life span can be up to 20 years, with pups being born as fully formed miniature versions of the adults.
  9. Mantas swim using much the same movement that birds use to fly.
  10.  Mantas have a protective mucus membrane that can be removed by being touched — so hands off, divers.

As a bonus factoid, this writer has two manta tattoos but has yet to see one in the flesh. Have you had a manta encounter?  Leave a comment below and tell us about it.