The giant manta ray is the largest ray. A ray is a fish. Rays belong to the same fish family as sharks.
There are two species of manta rays—the giant manta ray and the reef ray. The giant manta ray is much bigger than the reef ray. The giant manta ray is considered highly intelligent. It has the largest brain out of any fish.
Also called devilfish, the giant manta ray can grow to be 29 feet (7 m) wide and weigh as much as two tons (1.8 tonnes). Despite its large size, the giant manta ray is not a dangerous fish. It feeds on crustaceans and small ocean life.
The giant manta ray prefers warm water. It can be found in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters worldwide. The giant manta ray is a migratory animal. It can swim great distances, between Hawaii and Japan or between Australia and South Africa, for example.
The giant manta ray swims at many different depths. It can be found feeding in less than 32 feet (10 m) of water and it can dive as deep as 3,280 feet (1,000 m).
Giant manta rays are either all black or mostly black with a white belly. Giant manta rays have a distinct thumbprint-like marking on their underbellies. No two giant manta rays are marked alike.
The giant manta ray swims much like a bird flies. It has long pectoral wings that are shaped like big triangles with tipped ends. To swim, the giant manta ray flaps its wings up and down through the water. It is a slow swimmer, but if startled, it can zip away quickly. Sometimes it moves with such force that it propels itself up and out of the water.
The giant manta ray is sometimes called “devilfish” because it has two horns on its head. But despite looking scary, the giant manta ray is harmless. It has a short tail and no stinger.
Giant manta rays like sharks have changed little in 100 million years. Like sharks, the giant manta ray and other rays have no bones; their skeletons are of cartilage, hardened by lime.
The scientific name for the giant manta ray is Mobula birostris.