Fun Giant Manta Ray Facts For Kids

Rhea Nischal
May 04, 2023 By Rhea Nischal
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Diya Patel
Discover captivating giant manta ray facts about its habitat, feeding, natural predators, and more!

The giant manta ray is a mesmerizing ocean animal that inhabits tropical, temperate, and subtropical waters. Their scientific name is Mobula birostris and this extremely large species of ray is one of the top 10 largest animals inhabiting the oceans in the world.

Its length varies between 15-23 ft (4.5-7 m) so it can grow as long as 23 ft (7 m)! The giant manta ray belongs to the family of rays, the Mobulidae family, and is a member of the genus Mobula.

These fascinating creatures are commonly referred to as the oceanic manta ray, the giant oceanic manta ray, devil rays, or simply the giant manta ray. The giant manta ray is so large that it is the largest ray in the world; it can weigh a whopping weight of 6600 lb (3000 kg)!

They are carnivorous and are filter feeders.

They feed upon medium-sized fish, copepods, euphausiids, mysids, shrimp, and decapod larvae. These large rays have blanket-shaped bodies with two wing-like pectoral fins.

This intriguing ray can dive 3,280 ft (1,000 m) deep into the ocean very easily and often chooses to swim in the open waters of the ocean! They love to visit the reef's plankton-rich regions.

If you found these giant manta ray facts captivating, you must read on as it's about to get even more interesting ahead! If you love reading about this large giant manta ray, you might also love our facts about the catfish and the stingray.

Giant Manta Ray Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a giant manta ray?

The giant manta ray is a manta ray species that is a member of the family Mobulidae. There have been some genus shiftings faced by this ray.

Manta birostris was the original scientific name of this species and it was previously a member of the Manta genus. However, the Manta birostris was shifted to the Mobula genus along with the reef manta ray, Manta alfredi, as they were related closely to species in the Mobula genus.

What class of animal does a giant manta ray belong to?

The giant manta ray belongs to the class Chondrichthyes. Like most animals of this species, giant manta rays feed upon medium-sized fish, copepods, euphausiids, plankton, mysids, shrimp, and decapod larvae.

How many giant manta rays are there in the world?

Giant manta rays are widespread across the world, but the population size of the species, giant manta rays, is not known yet.

Where does a giant manta ray live?

The typical giant manta ray habitat consists of temperate, tropical, and subtropical ocean waters. The giant manta ray is also frequently seen around offshore oceanic islands.

It can be found in the Northern as well as the Southern Hemisphere.

Giant Manta rays have been observed in the Azores in the North Atlantic, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Aomori Prefecture in Japan, and the United States in New Jersey and southern California in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, they are found in Uruguay, New Zealand, Peru, and South Africa.

What is a giant manta ray's habitat?

It is a species that lives the majority of its existence far from the shore, following ocean currents. It is a migratory ray and migrates to locations where there are upwellings of water that are rich with nutrients, increasing the availability of plankton.

Who do giant manta rays live with?

Giant manta rays are solitary species of rays.

How long does a giant manta ray live?

Giant manta rays have a life expectancy of up to 40 years!

How do they reproduce?

Giant oceanic manta rays have a low fertility rate as they breed only once in two to three years, giving birth to just one pup. Interestingly, when males are looking for a female mate, they might form a 'mating train' if all of them want to mate with a particular female.

This train of males follows behind the female for a considerable amount of days until the female finally decides on her mate.

The hatching of the egg that is fertilized happens inside the large body of the female. Their gestation period is very long and lasts for about one year.

The female gives birth to one pup or very rarely two pups at night time in shallow coastal waters.

This pup has a 4 ft (1.4 m) width and on average weighs 20 lb (9 kg). This pup doubles the size of its body within one year of its birth!

What is their conservation status?

Giant oceanic manta rays are classified as an Endangered species in the IUCN's Red List of ‘Endangered’ species.

This classification happened as a result of overfishing of this species.

Whether targeted, artisanal, or bycatch fishing, the effect of this on the population of a species that has a low fertility rate, late sexual maturity, and a very long gestation phase producing just one pup can be devastating as they cannot make up for the such loss in population.

Another cause that has led to a drop in their populations is the selling price of manta ray gill rakers.

Giant Manta Ray Fun Facts

What do giant manta rays look like?

The giant manta ray can reach disc sizes of up to 23 ft (7 m) wide and weighs as much as 6600 lb (3000 kg). Their size on average is 14.8 ft (4.5 m).

Giant manta rays resemble smaller reef manta rays in appearance, and these two species are often mistaken for each other since their location range coincides. There are, nevertheless, distinctive characteristics distinguishing them from each other.

The giant manta ray is flat mostly and possesses massive triangular pectoral fins on each side of the diss.

When giant oceanic manta rays eat, their cephalic fins can be coiled up in a spiral or fanned out to funnel water into their huge mouth which is rectangular. The teeth of giant manta rays are arranged in an 18-row band and are only present in the lower jaw's center.

They have a pair of cephalic fins in the front whose shape is one of the major characteristics of this ray. These magnificent creatures have spiracles as well as eyes on the sides of their head.

Under the ventral surface, the gills of this ray are located.

They have a short dorsal fin and a very long, whip-like tail. The skin of these mesmerizing sea animals is very smooth and possesses tubercles that are ridge-shaped and conical, scattered throughout.

The top of their body, known as the dorsal surface, is of a steel blue, black, or dark brown color. The underside, known as the ventral surface, is white-colored and has black-colored dots scattered throughout.

A giant manta ray's fins are horn-shaped giving them a scary appearance.

How cute are they?

Giant manta rays are quite cute. Their large size and horn-shaped fins give them a captivating appearance and they have cute black and white spots all over their dorsal and ventral sides. Looking at these creatures, you can be mesmerized by their beauty.

How do they communicate?

Giant manta rays sometimes jump out of the water to let their mates know that there is an availability of food. It is also believed that they communicate with the help of cephalic lobes movements.

How big is a giant manta ray?

Giant manta rays are one of the largest sea animals with a 15-23 ft (4.5-7 m)  length.

How fast can a giant manta ray swim?

These manta rays are seen to swim at a speed of 5.5-7.5 mph (9-12 kph). They can dive as deep as 3,280 ft (1,000 m).

How much does a giant manta ray weigh?

The average giant manta ray size is massive and it weighs between the range of 2,980lb-6600 lb (1350-3000 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

This species doesn't have names according to gender.

What would you call a baby giant manta ray?

A baby of this species is known as a pup.

What do they eat?

These mesmerizing creatures are filter-feeders and feed upon medium-sized fish, copepods, euphausiids, mysids, shrimp, and decapod larvae. During feeding, they create an 0-shaped funnel with their mouth that guides food and water over their gill rakers and through their mouth.

These incredibly intelligent creatures utilize different feeding tactics to maximize their food intake such as making feeding chains.

Giant manta rays have been observed at the water level of just 32.8 ft (10 m) during feeding, even though diving up to more than 3280 ft (1000 m) is easy for them. A change in the location of their prey and seasonal changes both affect the diving behavior of this species.

Their natural predators are few. Due to the large size of these rays, only a few predators stand a chance of fighting with these rays.

Fish like the tiger shark, bull shark, great hammerhead shark, killer whale, or the false killer whale can be dangerous to the ray though. it is quite common to find scars of attacks on the skin of these rays.

Are they aggressive?

These manta rays are calm and quiet rays that have never proven to be dangerous or aggressive toward human beings. They are very interested in people and their behaviors. These creatures aren't even poisonous. They are rather tame and swim swiftly.

Would they make a good pet?

Giant oceanic manta rays cannot be kept as pets considering their massive size. However, they have been kept in captivity in some huge aquariums for public display.

Did you know...

The fins of these rays are horn-shaped and some people think that this makes them look evil.

These sea creatures have very large brains. They are known to pass the mirror test as well!

The patterns of dots on each of these animals are unique making it easier to distinguish them individually.

It is a rare sight to see the giant manta ray jumping out of the water, but they do jump sometimes. Scientists assume that they do so to let other mantas know that there is food available, or another theory is that they get rid of parasites by doing so.

Giant manta ray world records

The giant oceanic manta ray is the largest ray on the earth and it is from species of manta ray that the largest manta ray ever was recorded. This extremely large giant manta ray was 30 ft (9.1 m) long!

Evolution of the giant manta ray

Giant manta rays are certainly not a new species. They are known to have originated during the Jurassic era approximately 170 million years ago! These rays are believed to have originated and evolved from sharks.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our giant guitarfish facts and giant frogfish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Giant manta ray coloring pages.

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Written by Rhea Nischal

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

Rhea Nischal picture

Rhea NischalBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

A background in Business Administration and Management from MCM DAV College, Rhea has led her to work for her father's global business. However, her passion for content production, where she manages operations to ensure all processes run smoothly. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the piano and spending time with her one-year-old nephew.

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Fact-checked by Diya Patel

Bachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

Diya Patel picture

Diya PatelBachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

A member of Kidadl's fact-checking team, Diya is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science from Ahmedabad University with an interest in exploring other fields. As part of her degree, she has taken classes in communications and writing to expand her knowledge and skills.

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