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.)
- Manta rays are a large form of eagle ray and join them in the classification family Myliobatidae.
- There are two types of manta: The reef manta and the giant oceanic manta. Can you guess which is larger?
- Despite their size, mantas eat only the tiniest life forms in the ocean: zooplankton.
- A manta’s triangular pectoral fin can have a wingspan of nearly 23 feet.
- 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.
- When using cleaning stations mantas can remain virtually in the same position for a few minutes.
- Like whales and dolphins, mantas breach, but it is not fully known why.
- A manta’s life span can be up to 20 years, with pups being born as fully formed miniature versions of the adults.
- Mantas swim using much the same movement that birds use to fly.
- 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.