About Manta Rays

Manta Ray Facts and Information

Manta Ray, Manta Birostris
Hawaiian name: Hahalua

  • There are just over 150 manta rays residing on the Kona Coast; with 8 being identified in the past few months. They have a home range of about 30 miles, up and down the coast.
  • They are one of the largest animals in the ocean – ranging from 3 to 20 feet wide. Most of the ones we see are 6 to 10 feet wide.
  • Manta rays are cousins to the shark. Both sharks and manta rays are made completely of cartilage, they have no bones. So, just as our noses and ears are extremely flexible, so are the manta rays.
  • Manta rays are completely harmless to humans. They do not have stingers on their tails like sting rays. While they do have teeth, they are alomost hidden and do not use them, they cannot bite humans in any way.
  • University of Hawaii Scientist, Tim Clark, studies the manta rays; their populations, genetics, habitat use, and feeding biology. Manta Ray reports are submitted nightly with data on the number spotted, names of manta rays spotted, location, conditions, behavior, and more. Manta rays have distinctive markings on their ventral side which allow them to be identified, named, and cataloged – like how humans have fingerprints.
  • Manta rays are filter feeders and feed on plankton. They cruise through the water with their mouths wide open attempting to catch microscopic plankton in the water. They use branchial filters to catch the plankton and sift it out of the water – similar to how we use a colander to drain pasta.
  • Mantas consume approximately 2% of their body weight each day; that’s about 50lbs of microscopic plankton for and average adult.
  • They have 2 fins on their heads, called Cephalic Lobes, which they use to push the plankton into their mouths. When they are not feeding, the cephalic lobes curl up, making them more streamlined in the water.
  • They are very graceful and slow moving at night as they are trying to eat as much plankton as possible. They are actually capable of swimming over 15 mph. They swim near the surface propelling themselves by flapping their pectoral fins and sometimes jump or somersault completely out of the water.
  • Manta rays have a sixth sense, that we as humans do not have, called electro-reception. Each manta ray has tiny nerve cells on their heads that allow them to sense movement and objects in the water. This allows them to swim inches from us without actually touching us.
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