There are countless alien-like marine creatures out there that captivate even the most impassive of souls. However, the creature that ultimately stole my heart was the majestic manta ray. Some weighing in at whopping 3,000 lbs, manta rays are the largest of the rays and are closely related to sharks. Unlike its cousin, the sting ray, harmless manta rays have a short tail and no stinging spines. They are extremely agile and are frequently found leaping out of the water. These graceful beauties can reach up to 29.5 feet wide, but average approximately 22 feet wide. Although the size of these creatures can seem quite daunting, mantas are actually quite docile. They even occasionally allow lucky night divers to touch them while they are feeding. Manta rays eat microscopic plankton, small fish, and tiny crustaceans. They have two large, cephalic lobes on the sides of their heads that help them direct food into their mouth while they swim. Being that their primary food source is plankton, their main feeding frenzy begins at night, when the diurnal cycle (or vertical migration) of the plankton is timed to be at the surface. Furthermore, manta rays are quite intelligent and have been documented to consistently return to specific, high nutrient locations to feed. Despite changes to their natural environment, the unique feeding habits of the manta ray allow these animals to continue to evolve and survive. Marine mammal conservation has become involved with this species to make sure they have enough nourishment to thrive. Mantas generally do well, but with humans polluting both the air and water, it can sometimes be difficult for them to find adequate food supplies. Therefore, it is up to us as the superior species to lend a helping hand to those in need; from microscopic zooplankton all the way to colossal blue whales.
It only takes one to make a difference. Reduce, reuse, recycle and become an agent of change to help save the planet.
The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble. (Blaise Pascal)
“Giant Mantas, Manta birostris ~ MarineBio.org.” MarineBio Conservation Society, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. Thursday, March 28, 2013. <http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=49>.