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Monster manta ray species discovered

Photo: Giant manta ray species discovered

Monster manta ray species discovered
July 25, 2008

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown species of manta ray. Previously there was believed to be only a single species of ray but genetic analysis now shows there are at least two, and possibly three, species.

The research, carried out by Andrea Marshall, a marine biologist sponsored by the Save Our Seas Foundation, distinguishes a larger and rarer type of manta as a new species. The species can reach a weight of 4500 pounds (2 metric tons) with a pectoral fins “windspan” of 26 feet (8 m). It appears to be more migratory and elusive, than its smaller, more common cousin.

The larger species of manta ray. (Photo © Andrea Marshall)

Manta rays are the largest of over 500 different species of rays and skates. Unlike stingrays, manta rays are harmless and do not possess a stinging barb. They feed on plankton.

Rays are commonly harvested for foot markets, especially in Asia, but also suffer as bycatch. As a result, populations are declining in some regions.

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