Learn why you would never want to invite a shark and a manta ray to the same dinner party (hypothetically speaking) on this Wildlife Wednesday!
In the past, manta rays were thought to be aggressive and dangerous to humans; sailors would even tell tales about mantas capsizing boats by jumping into them. The reality is that these gentle filter feeders, while powerful, don’t really have much of an interest in hopping a free ride.
Manta rays can be found in most of the world’s tropical to temperate oceans, from the coasts of Hawaii to the coral reefs of Australia.
Why so blue?
While manta ray population numbers aren’t known, researchers suspect that those numbers have decreased significantly—up to 80 percent in some areas—over the past 75 years, mainly due to fishing practices that either directly target the creatures or catch them as bycatch.
Luckily, many governments, including the US, the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, and New Zealand, have laws against capturing or killing these sizable sea-dwellers. As recently as February 2014, Indonesia—once the world’s largest shark and ray fishery—created the world’s largest manta ray sanctuary, giving manta rays full protection in the waters surrounding the archipelago.