Animal Species:Manta Ray, Manta birostris (Walbaum, 1792)
The Manta Ray is the largest species of ray in the world. Disc widths have been reliably measured up to 6.7 m, but this species possibly grows up to 9.1 m disc width.
Standard Common Name
Australian Devilray, Chevron Manta, Devilfish, Giant Manta, Oceanic Manta, Pacific Manta Ray, Pelagic Manta
The Manta Ray is the largest species of ray in the world. The disc of the Manta Ray is wider than it is long. The species has one dorsal fin and a whip-like tail which lacks a sting. The surface of the body is rough to touch. They have a very broad mouth, on either side of which are prominent fleshy extensions called cephalic lobes. Manta Rays are grey-blue to green-brown above. The "shoulder region" of the disc may also have pale grey markings. The underside of the disc is white, often with grey margins.
Disc widths have been reliably measured up to 6.7 m, but this species possibly grows up to 9.1 m disc width. Individuals of 4 m disc width are relatively common.
The Manta Ray lives in tropical, marine waters worldwide, but is also found occasionally in temperate seas. In Australia it is recorded from south-western Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south to the southern coast of New South Wales.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Distribution by collection data
Feeding and Diet
Divers sometimes see Manta Rays swimming gracefully through the water feeding on plankton. The planktonic organisms are filtered from the water by the gills.
Other behaviours and adaptations
Despite most individuals being seen swimming slowly, the Manta Ray is capable of swimming at rapid speed. They are sometimes observed leaping out of the water and landing back on the surface with a loud slap.
- Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
- Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
- Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Tags fishes, ichthyology, Manta Ray, Manta birostris, Myliobatidae, ray, stingray, largest ray, > 5m, Australian Devilray, Chevron Manta, Devilfish, Giant Manta, Oceanic Manta, Pacific Manta Ray, Pelagic Manta, disc wider than long, whip-like tail, no sting, rough body, broad mouth, cephalic lobes, grey-blue, green-brown, pale markings, while underside, tropical water, marine, adult, temperate water, graceful, leap out of water,