Adults of this large species with their large triangular wings (pectoral fins), and projecting horn-like head flaps (cephalic hood) are unlikely to be mistaken for any other species. The skin is smooth; the mouth is terminal (at the front of the head); tail lacks a spine or stinger. The pacific manta is a black-brown color above and white below.
Size: Grows to a disk width of at least 6.7 meters (22 feet) and weighs at least 1300 kg (2800 lb).
Range and Habitat
Range: Circumtropical, occurs in all warm seas.
Habitat: Pelagic. They may be seen far out to sea, but also occur near reefs and pinnacles.
Mantas feed on plankton, including small fishes and squid. They usually have opportunistic remoras attached to their undersides, looking for scraps that result from the feeding of the mantas, and for protection.
Their behavior with divers is uniquethey usually let divers approach them, and seem to enjoy the feeling of air bubbles on their bodies. There is disagreement about riding mantas. Some people believe it should be discouraged, whereas others believe that the closeness with the animal may promote the caring and conservation of these animals as perhaps it has in the case of some whales.
Text by Patricia Beller
Photograph Summerhays Films © 2000 CinemaCorp of the Californias
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