Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Manta Ray

By using their so-called wings, these gigantic fish can propel their massive bodies right out of the sea and can then glide at a height of up to 5 feet above the water surface.

Manta Ray
Manta rays, which are closely related to sharks, have inspired fear among sailors for centuries. This is due to the fact that they often circle small boats and can even leap above the waves. It is thought that they may do this as part of their courtship display. Although their size means they can be dangerous if they actually collide with a boat, manta rays only feed on microscopic plankton which they filter out of the water using specially adapted gills. As water is drawn in through their cavernous
mouth, special filters remove the plankton, which is then passed down into the stomach.The name “manta” comes from the Spanish word for “cloak,” and describes the cloaklike appearance of these fish when they are swimming.

The Ray’s Companions
Manta Ray
Various smaller fish are often seen in the company of manta rays.These include pilot fish—so called because they tend to swim in front of the ray, as if guiding it along. Various types of “cleaner fish” may also be in attendance, including brightly colored wrasse. Rays seem to recognize these fish, and slow down, opening their gill slits to allow the small fish to dart in and remove any parasites that may be present there. Remoras may also be present on the body of a manta ray. They use their dorsal (back) fin rather like a suction cup to hitch a ride on the Manta Ray’s body, and sometimes even hang on inside its mouth.


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