AT A GLANCE
Manta’s are cartilaginous fishes, meaning they are close relatives of sharks and other rays.
Being fish, they don’t breathe air, but instead they have gills allowing them to respire underwater. To breathe they must continually keep water flowing over their gills.
Despite their misleading size, manta rays feed on some of the smallest organisms in the sea! They are planktivores, feeding on the plankton that is found in the water column.
SPECIES IN THE CARIBBEAN
The giant oceanic manta is the largest of the manta species, with a wing-span reaching up to 7 meters weighing in at 2 tonnes! They are frequently sighted along productive coastlines with regular upwellings, at oceanic island groups and offshore pinnacles or seamounts.
For specific information about their location and sightings please visit the Manta Trust hotspots page.
Manta cf. birostris
This is a unique and putative species found only in the Atlantic Ocean (this species is still yet to be fully described, currently still a putative species). They are thought to have characteristics of both the oceanic and reef mantas. Commonly they have a wing-span of up to 4 metres and are attracted to the waters off Isla Mujeres in the same areas as the whale sharks where is a upwelling full of plankton!
Mantas are found all over the world; however some important differences in range and habitat exist between the oceanic and the reef mantas. All species live pelagic lives in the open ocean, visiting reefs to feed and cleaning stations to be cleaned and to be social.
Although all 3 species of manta ray have been sighted in the Mexican Caribbean, it is mostly manta birostris sp. that is sighted feeding in the area.