Manta Rays, the impressive fish with its black and white coloration and enormous size. They can grow up to a 8 meters wide and possess the largest brain of all fishes, yet they are very charismatic and gentle creatures. Here is some info about this remarkable fish and its way of life.
Manta Rays live in temperate, subtropical and tropical oceans worldwide and they can be seen in places to the coast of shallow water, reefs, atolls, seamounts and groups of islands like the Nusa islands. In the following link you will see how Dune Atlantis staff encounters Manta Rays in Nusa Penida: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN1WVY46uuc. The daily movement of Manta Rays can get up to 70 kilometers while the seasonal migration can get up to hundreds of kilometers.
Compared to their close relatives, the sharks, manta rays do not eat flesh of other large fish. Meanwhile they are considered filter feeders, they consume a large quantity of zooplankton which can consist of shrimps, krill, plantonic crabs etc. Once they find what they are looking for, they swim slowly around the prey until it becomes a ball of food. Thereafter they speed through this ball of food with their mouth wide open. Mantas themselves are preyed by large sharks and killer whales.
Generally manta rays will be seen swimming solo, however, at certain times they will be seen gathered for food or for warmer temperatures of water. Interaction between two manta rays happens exclusively during courtship and mating. Hereby male mantas, sometimes up to 20 or 30, follow the receptive female manta they detect. After mating with the chosen male, the mantas separate and do not re-join or get involved again. If a female manta gives birth it will not give any parental care to the baby manta since they are born completely independant.
After a female manta has chosen her male, the mating process starts. The male manta positions himself underneath the female so that their bellies are bonded. Then he inserts one of his claspers into the female cloaca. This lasts between 60 and 90 seconds only. Hereafter, the fertilized egg grows within female oviduct. Manta’s usually have 1, max 2 pups at a time. In the first period the embryos develop within the egg by being fed by the yolk. After hatching, the pups remain in the oviduct and receive additional nutrition. This process lasts for approximately 12 to 13 months. Once the pups are fully developed they leave the mothers body fully independent. The wingspan of the newborn manta’s are on average between 1.10 and 1.30 meters and they tend to double their size in their first year of life.