Manta Rays are known for being highly intelligent and threatened sea creatures. They are usually found in tropical, temperate, and subtropical ocean waters. And considering their vast sizes, you would probably ask yourself about what Manta Rays eat.
So, in this blog, you will know more about what Manta Rays eat and how they eat. In addition, it will help you know some of the interesting facts about these sea creatures.
Understanding Manta Rays’ Diet
Manta Rays' diet may differ from other huge sea creatures that consume the flesh of smaller species of living beings. The Manta Rays are related to sharks, and they are chondrichthyan. They have the internal skeleton of cartilage. However, unlike sharks, Manta Rays don’t usually eat the flesh of other large animals.
Researchers have discovered that there are two Manta-Ray species. One is the reef manta ray; they tend to live along the coastlines in the Indo-Pacific. On the other hand, there is a giant oceanic manta ray; that tends to live in all the world's major oceans. However, they spend most of their time living far from land.
Both of these manta ray species are filter feeders. Meaning they could swim with their mouths open. They have creative techniques when they are feeding. They also do repeated flips to remain in a single spot that is packed with chain-feeding or krill. They follow each other in the cycle, open their mouths, and create a cyclone effect to trap food in a spiral.
Despite having teeth, Manta Rays don’t chew food. Instead, they have structures in their gills called gill rakers that work as a filter. It prevents water entry and allows the introduction of large quantities. The truth is, only the lower jaw comes with teeth. The upper is empty of them. Furthermore, Manta Rays are known to consume small fish. They represent a portion of their usual diet, and they consume about 12 to 13 percent of their entire weight in a week.
Manta Rays: What Do They Eat?
Now that you understand the kind of diet that Manta Rays have, you should also know what manta rays eat.
Mantas eat on plankton, specifically zooplanktons. Although giant manta rays tend to be private and solitary, they combine at cleaning sites, feeding, and mating. They primarily feed on plankton organisms like euphausiids, mysids, copepods, decapod larvae, and shrimp. However, some studies note their consumption of moderately sized and small fish.
There are more than 5,000 plankton species in the ocean, and when the lights are turned on in the ocean at night, the plankton will look like underwater snow. It’s like months that are drawn to the lights, and plankton is fascinated by it.
Manta Rays keep swimming along with their large mouths open. They filter plankton and some other small food from the water. To help them with this strategy, Manta Rays has this specialised flap known as cephalic lobes. It will help water and food come into their mouths.
How Do Manta Rays Get Planktons?
Planktons are usually found in certain areas, and it is possible to find a cluster in large volumes of water from the area. When Manta Rays are hungry, they will swim through the ocean and concentrate on searching for zooplanktons. However, some Manta Rays would gather around the coral reefs to get their food and have it cleaned by other fish and other small organisms.
It was said that most Manta Rays were observed feeding because of their coastal habitat that makes them easy to look at targets. It will not happen with giant manta rays; however, their eating habits can be the same.
While they swim, they would keep their cephalic lobes coiled at the top of their head. However, when it comes to eating, they would just stretch them to form a tunnel and help boost rich in water. They would feed near the water surface where there are lots of planktons floating.
If planktons were near the seabed, the Manta Ray would just approach until they place them at the bottom of their bodies. Then, it would be about a few centimeters above the ocean, which may often cause them to get minor injuries because of contact with rough grains of sand.
More Details about Manta Rays’ Feeding Habits
Manta Rays are known for being opportunistic feeders. They consume whatever they can find. They feed on small fish and shrimps, and most of the time, plankton. Manta Rays keep on migrating, so they might move around to look for warm water and food regularly. The kind of fish they have access to will depend on where they live.
So, what do manta rays eat? If the food supplies are short, they will just swim to a long-distance and find whatever they come looking for. They are not territorial, and they don’t usually follow the same route for migration. Instead, they have this instinct about whatever helps them look for food that is right for them.
They usually eat at night, mainly because plankton is easier to find and get. When the sun goes down, they will start to rise to the top of the water surface. They are also known to feed at the bottom of the water too. And when they blend in with the sediment, they can just avoid predators and have their upper hand when it comes to sneaking up on their prey.
Manta Rays are known to swim gracefully and slowly and even twirl when they are feeding. They have large mouths that open and unroll their cephalic horns to filter the plankton into the oral cavity. That’s why they are interesting sea creatures that fascinate many ocean-lovers.
Hopefully, the information about what manta rays eat has helped you understand more about them.
Also, for them to eat, the ocean must be well-kept and healthy. As humans, we must also learn how to take care of the ocean. That way, we can take good care of other sea creatures like Manta Rays too. Simply, our little ways could always make a difference. Let’s start within ourselves, and we can have an amazing world.
And by supporting us here at ATOLEA Jewelry, you are already starting to create a difference for the Ocean. With every purchase you make from our Manta ray ring, part of it goes to Ocean conservation charities with the mission of preserving the Ocean.
So check out our stylish waterproof Manta ring now. You will never run out of choices and reasons not to care about the ocean once you start wearing them!