Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Manta Ray is All Right

Only 2 feet of acrylic between us!
You may have noticed that I've been on a fish kick ever since returning from the Georgia Aquarium. What can I say? There are a hell of a lot of impressive fish there.  Whale sharks! Jaw fish! Piranhas! And... Manta rays!

I confess, I love rays. Growing up in Florida my grandfather used to tell me about seeing them when he went night fishing. He said they were attracted by the lights, and that they were bigger than his boat. He didn't tell me about the fish he actually caught, only the ones he saw, so I ended up with an image of him sitting silently in his boat communing with giants. Grandpa was an animal lover too, in his way.

This is not how you should treat a manta ray
It turns out that the Georgia Aquarium is one of only four places in the world that keep mantas in captivity. It's easy to see why: they're huge! At birth they already have a "wing span" of 5 feet. And I do mean birth. These rays are ovoviviparous, which means that they develop in eggs which are retained inside the mother's uterus. This results in Mama Ray giving birth to one or two live young once they've fully developed. From there they just get bigger, topping out at around 13 feet wide. Some get much larger though, and have been know to stretch more than 25 feet across.

Nandi, courtesy of the Georgia Aquarium
I think all mantas are pretty great, but one at the Georgia Aquarium is extra special. Her name is Nandi, and she was rescued from shark nets off the coast of South Africa. She was still a baby of only 8 feet when she was taken to Ushaka Marine World in Africa. She was wounded and at first refused to eat, but careful attention from resident vets and caretakers soon brought her around. She stayed there until she outgrew her 580,000 gallon tank and plans were made for her to travel to the Georgia, where she became the first manta ray to inhabit a United States aquarium. Now she resides in a 6.3 million gallon tank, surrounded by other mantas, whale sharks, and lots of other lovely sea-going fish.

It's probably a good thing that I don't live in Atlanta. I'd be at the aquarium all the time, which would not be conducive to getting work done. Maybe I'll just have to learn how to crochet, and make myself my very own manta ray, like the one below from WeBeeUniquesbyJulie.

A rather soulful manta


  1. I think they were my favorite. The mouth was ENORMOUS!!!

  2. Hello Dude,

    Very good information, thank you very much by the article and the quality of your blog. The manta ray is the largest species of the rays in the family Myliobatidae.


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