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Manta Ray Facts

Scientific Name:  Manta birostris

Manta rays are found around the globe in temperate and tropical waters. Little is known about their life history or ecology but researchers believe they may live 20 years or more. The average wingspan of a manta ray is 22 feet and they can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds.


Manta Ray Facts & Tidbits

  • "Manta" is Spanish for "cloak" which refers to their large blanket-shaped bodies.
  • Unlike other rays, mantas do not have a spine on their tail for defense.
  • They have a large brain relative to their body size in comparison to other sharks and rays.
  • Because of their enormous size, their only known predators are large sharks and humans.
  • Manta rays are nicknamed “Devil Rays” for their “horns” which are actually extensions of the fins that help to funnel plankton (their main prey) into their mouths.



Manta rays are found in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide, between 35 degrees north and 35 degrees south latitude.

Hot Spots:  Mozambique (year round), Yap Islands, French Polynesia, Australia, Hawaii



IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Population: Unknown

The top threats that mantas face include fishing, both for commercial purposes and accidentally being caught in fishing gear (bycatch). Some of their parts are used in traditional Asian medicine.

Learn more about threats to sharks & rays here.


What Is SEEtheWILD?

We're a non-profit wildlife conservation travel organization that supports local efforts to protect endangered animals.  We work with quality tour operators who have passed our criteria to ensure low environmental impact.  We're part of The Ocean Foundation.

For more information on manta ray facts, contact us.

Manta close-up
© Quest Overseas/Marine Photobank
A close-up of the manta's cephalic fins, used for feeding on plankton.
© Steven Levin/Marine Photobank
The manta has an enormous body and striking black and white coloration.