Manta rays are one of the amazing animals that call our treasured Reef home. Manta rays are highly gregarious, intelligent species frequently seen in the Great Barrier Reef's tropical waters. They are also curious and occasionally playful creatures, which attracts divers.
These gentle giants serve a critical role in the ecosystems of our coral reefs, a function that we are just now beginning to comprehend fully. According to recent research by the Save Our Seas Foundation, Manta rays frequently move between coastal areas and the ocean waters, where they feed a particular kind of zooplankton. Their excrement functions as fertilizer when they revert to the reef, giving the coral nutrients that aren't present in the surroundings. This promotes coral growth and may contribute to preserving coral reef health.
Listed below are five additional interesting tidbits about these one-of-a-kind animals:
1. 'Manta' means cloak in Spanish
The pectoral fins of these fish are shaped like wings, thus the name, and are used to propel them smoothly through the water. Manta rays are sometimes known as "devil fish" because of the two fins that stick out from their heads.
2. Mantas is the biggest and smartest marine fish.
Manta rays, which can reach weights of two tonnes and possess a seven-meter wingspan, have the largest brains of any animal and excel at problem-solving and communication. They don't have deadly tail spines as their stingray relatives do. Therefore they are safe for people to interact with.
3. Manta rays like playing with their meal.
They frequently form large chains and move in loops to produce a circular pattern impact, capturing food in their aftermath. They rely on shrimp and zooplankton. Lady Elliot Island is home to one of the uncommon spectacles on the Reef: a group of anglers seeing a chain feeding.
4. Mantas are extremely conscientious about hygiene.
Mantas must frequently stop at Reef "cleaning stations." These unique areas of the Reef are often managed by tiny wrasse, who remove parasites and dead skin from the bodies of incoming creatures. Mantas typically return to the same spot while desperately waiting for an hour until these cleaners arrive at their jobs.
5. Every manta is distinct.
They are as distinctive as fingerprints in that their undersides have a distinct pattern of natural spots. Researchers use these markers to monitor people's movements.
In the same way that many marine species are experiencing population declines, manta rays are classified as endangered.
Overfishing is endangering the existence of this species, in addition to rising water temperatures and declining water quality due to sediment runoff. Overfished populations fail to fully recover because of their lengthy lifespans and limited reproductive rates.