Manta rays

secrets roaming as
oceanic butterflies
connect the dots

Manta rays are often referred to as the ocean’s giants. Also sea pancakes.

You’d expect it to be rather cumbersome maneuvering a 20 ft (6 m) wide body. Except the behavioural repertoire of manta rays is quite spectacular.

They leap into the air for reasons unknown. They dive to depths beyond 150 m. They somersault when feeding. They patiently pose while being preened of parasites by small fishes. Males “train” behind females and bite their fins during courtship.

Like the leafy seadragon, these fish can be identified by unique markings. Distinct spots and smears on a manta ray’s belly are used like a fingerprint to determine who’s who. Citizen science initiatives using “automated animal recognition technology” are helping build databases of manta ray photos.

And for those wondering; yes, manta rays even make pooping look graceful.