Manta Ray, Manta birostris: The Manta Ray is characterized by its rhomboidal body disc, wider than it is long, wide head projecting beyond the disc, and wide mouth at the front. The Manta Ray has a pair of large, triangularly shaped, pectoral, paddle-like fins that appear as “wings” and project well forward, and a long, whip-like, spineless tail. The skin is covered with denticle studding. The body is dark grey to black, with white patches on the shoulders, and white undersides.
The wingspan of a Manta Ray may exceed 24-feet, and it can weigh more than 4,000 pounds.
In Mexican fishing waters , the Manta Ray is found in the first 100 feet of the water column and it is omnipresent from Magdalena Bay south along the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula, throughout the Sea of Cortez, along the coast of the Mexican mainland, and around all oceanic islands.
Manta Rays congregate in small schools of up to 20 individuals traveling in random directions, and they are famous for their leaping and somersaulting abilities which is a truly phenomenal sight “up close and personal.”
This fish species is one of the more abundant members of the Myliobatiformes or Stingray order that includes Cownose Rays, Devil Rays, Eagle Rays, Manta Rays and Mobula Rays. Globally, there are 178 species of Myliobatiformes.
The Manta Ray is the sole member of the Manta genus.
It can easily be confused with a series of mobulas which include the Chilean Devil Ray, Mobula tarapacana; Monk’s Mobula, Mobula munkiana; Shorttail Devil Ray, Mobula thurstoni; and Spinetail Mobula, Mobula japonica. However, each of these species has a long narrow head with horns and a mouth that opens on the bottom.