The manta ray, beautiful and mysterious

The manta ray is a completely harmless cartilaginous fish that lives in the tropical waters of the world.

The manta ray is a creature that is considered, because of its appearance, as the embodiment of marine elegance . Throughout history, this creature has been feared because of the resemblance of its cephalic fins to the “devil’s horns”, in addition to the fact that the shape of its body resembled a cape.

However, these giants pose no threat as they feed on plankton and are peaceful creatures . Their elegance evokes graceful dancers who perform an underwater ballet, flying in the sea doing amazing pirouettes, somersaults and amazing entrechats, out of the water.

This fish is known by many names around the world. In French, we speak of manta ray, sea devil or giant manta ray . In this article, let’s discover together the amazing characteristics of this fish.

The classification of the lines

The manta ray belongs to the class of chondrichthyans or cartilaginous fish. They are characterized by a skeleton composed entirely of cartilage tissue . In fact, this group includes different species of sharks and rays.

Cartilaginous fish are characterized by the absence of a swim bladder and lungs. They breathe through five to seven pairs of gills. These are open to the outside through slits or gill openings.

This group of fish does not have a cover, the bony fin that covers and protects the gills of bony fish . Therefore, they do not have this mechanism to control the entry and exit of water through the gills.

Manta ray

As a result, cartilaginous fish are forced to remain in continuous motion to force water to enter the gills . This means that the manta ray is an animal that never stops swimming, from birth to death.

Cartilaginous fish – mobranches – are very archaic. They have existed at least for about 400 million years.

Experts recognize two species of manta rays: the reef ray (Manta alfredi) and the giant manta ray (Manta birostris).

What characterizes the manta ray?

Manta rays develop their pectoral fins in wings. When swimming, they flap their fins in a wave like birds in flight.

They have gills on the ventral side. Their heads are large, with eyes on each side and a long mouth at the front . In the mouth, there are several rows of small teeth that are not used for chewing. They are used so that males can cling to the female during mating.

A manta ray up close

Above the mouth, two structures called cephalic lobes protrude. They prolong and direct the flow of water in the mouth . These structures optimize the feeding process of the manta ray. It feeds by filtering the water in order to ingest the marine plankton , of which it consumes a large amount.

Both species have a whip-like tail. However, unlike other species of the same order, the two species of manta rays do not have toxic stings in the tail.

This marine animal is very intelligent. Experts recognize that it has the largest brain of all fish. Recently, it has been shown to have the most highly developed cognitive abilities among fish.