Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Reef Manta Ray

The reef manta rays are one of the largest and the most graceful inhabitants of the Maldivian coral reefs. As a incredibly graceful swimmer, the reef manta ray almost seems to fly through the water, however it is also capable of extreme speed and sometimes they even leap of the water, landing with a loud slap (see video on my facebook page). Those jumps may be an attempt to remove parasites, escape a predator, communicate with others or simply in order to play. Event though, they are massive in size, they feed on plankton only, which they filter out of the water using their gill rakers. The reef manta rays can often be seen in groups while feeding and are generally known as 'group-traveler'. Throughout those journeys they tend to be occupied by smaller fish called remoras, which attach to rays body's and consume particles of food that fall form the ray's mouth. 

Furthermore, the reef manta rays regularly visit the so-called 'cleaning stations' where several types of fish pick parasites of their bodies. 

Behavior during courtship: During courtship, one or more male reef manta rays chase a female around the reef. The male reef manta rays see this as a competition in order to prove who is the strongest and who has the right to mate. 

When finally reproduced, the eggs of a reef manta
ray develop in the females body for about a year. As the eggs hatch internally, the pups are abel to be born alive. The birth usually takes place in 
shallow water during night, the seasonal time may vary though - birth during winter as well as summer has already been observed. The exact lifespan of the reef manta ray is unfortunately still unknown, however, it is estimated to be at least 40 years or more. 

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