World Manta Day 2022

What more is there to these intelligent, entrancing fish?

Mantas have the biggest brain-to-body ratio of all fish species studied to date. In some regions, these highly intelligent and social creatures spend their days in large groups and at cleaning stations in shallow waters and then move into deeper waters at night to feed. Did you know each manta ray has an individual spot pattern (similar to our fingerprints) on its ventral surface? This spot pattern is used to identify individuals through Photo ID, so researchers can study them and understand more about their behavior.

Giant manta rays are among the least productive species of rays in terms of their reproductive output, as it is estimated that a single female may only produce 4-7 offspring in its lifetime. The valuable trade of their gill plates has led to increased demand for giant manta rays, and some fisheries have begun targeting them. Because of their low reproductive rate, the species would take a long time to recover from overexploitation. The IUCN lists the giant manta ray as endangered and the reef manta ray as vulnerable.

Through our work, we have tracked giant manta rays off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and researched important areas for manta rays – including Cabo Verde, West Africa, and Pohnpei, Micronesia – to study their spatial ecology. We work with local stakeholders to improve their conservation and study areas that host manta ray habitats all year round to help identify key habitats and overlaps with threats that help us better plan conservation for mantas.

What more is there to these intelligent, entrancing fish?

Listen to this NPR podcast in which our Founder and executive director, Dr. Rachel Graham, to learn more!

Our Work With Manta Rays

Learn some awesome facts about manta rays by taking a look at our Species Guide!