Top 10 Facts You Didn't Know About Oceanic Manta Rays
It is unusual to see Oceanic Manta Rays in the inner Hauraki Gulf and on our whale watching trips. However, the current knowledge of these majestic animals is very limited so have created this blog post in conjunction with Manta Watch New Zealand to raise awareness of the work that is being done to find out more about these animals in New Zealand waters.
1. There are two species of manta ray - oceanic (Mobula bistrosis) and reef (Mobula alfredi). Here in New Zealand we can see the oceanic type.
2. The oceanic manta ray is the largest of all rays with a wingspan of up to 7 metres and a weight of about 3,000kg!
3. They can be found in tropical and temperate waters worldwide.
Range of oceanic manta rays (www.iucnredlist.org)
4. In New Zealand, oceanic manta rays are generally found along the continental shelf in water temperatures of 18°C or more.
5. They look similar to the spine-tailed devil ray (also found in New Zealand) however spine-tailed devil ray is much smaller when fully grown.
6. The easiest way to tell the difference between a spine-tailed devil ray and the oceanic manta ray (besides their size) is the colouration on the dorsal (top) side.
Oceanic manta ray (copyright: Jake Hird) and a spine-tailed devil ray (copyright: Department of Conservation)
7. Oceanic manta rays have the largest brain of any cold-blooded fish.
8. Oceanic manta rays feed on zooplankton. They unfurl their cephalic fins to help funnel the food towards their mouth.
9. Currently, there is little information on the oceanic manta rays here in New Zealand but they have been seen in the months November through to June with most sightings around December to March when the water is warmer.
10. Become a citizen scientist! If you see any oceanic manta rays during your travels in New Zealand, you can report your sighting to Manta Watch New Zealand. If the one you spot was previously unknown to researchers, you might even be able to name it!
What you can do:
With thanks to Lydia Green (Manta Watch New Zealand). Cover photo (c) Jake Hird