Are you curious about what manta rays eat? These majestic creatures are known for their large size and graceful movements, but their diet is just as fascinating.
Manta rays are filter feeders, which means that they consume large quantities of tiny organisms such as plankton and small fish.
Their feeding habits are unique and interesting to observe. Manta rays have a specialized structure in their mouths called the cephalic lobes, which they use to funnel water into their mouths.
As they swim, water passes through their gills, and the plankton and other small organisms are trapped in their gill rakers.
This filter feeding method allows manta rays to consume large amounts of food without expending too much energy.
Table of Contents
What Do Manta Rays Eat?
Manta rays are filter feeders, meaning they consume large quantities of tiny organisms that drift along in the ocean currents.
Manta Ray Feeding Habits
Manta rays are known for their unique feeding habits. They have triangular pectoral fins that they use to direct water into their mouths.
The water is then filtered through their gill rakers, which trap plankton and other small organisms.
Manta rays are also known to perform acrobatics such as barrel rolling and somersaulting while feeding to maximize their prey intake.
Types of Plankton Eaten by Manta Rays
Manta rays primarily feed on zooplankton, such as copepods, krill, and mysid shrimp. They also consume fish eggs, crab larvae, and mollusk larvae.
Euphausiids and arrow worms are also part of their diet. Research suggests that the majority of their diet (73%) actually comes from mesopelagic sources.
Manta Ray Feeding Techniques
Manta rays use their horn-shaped cephalic fins to guide plankton into their mouths. They have no teeth, so they rely on their gill rakers to filter out their food.
Manta rays are also known to filter-feed on the surface of the water, where they can consume large quantities of plankton.
Manta rays are vulnerable to overfishing, pollution, and climate change. They are often caught as bycatch in fishing nets, and their gill rakers are used in Chinese medicine.
Despite being one of the largest rays in the ocean, manta rays are completely harmless to humans.