Reef Manta Rays
Classified as the same species as the oceanic manta until 2009, the reef manta is now recognised as its own species. It is identified by its smaller size, with an average width of around 3.5 metres, and by its unique colouration. Reef mantas usually have white mouths
and cephalic fins, whereas those of oceanic mantas are black. They also have black spots all over their white undersides, whilst the oceanic mantas’ spots are confined to the lower abdomen region. Reef mantas are a resident species, spending their lives in shallow, coastal sections of reef. They are mostly found in the Indo-Pacific, and may make short migrations to follow in the wake of seasonal plankton blooms. Like the oceanic manta ray, reef mantas are considered Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Giant Oceanic Manta Ray
Officially classified as a separate species from the reef manta in 2009, the giant oceanic manta ray is the largest of all ray species. They are found across the globe in tropical and subtropical regions, and tend to favour open ocean rather than shallow
coastal waters. They are nomadic, and can travel long distances in search of plankton. Giant oceanic mantas reach an average size of around 4.5 metres in width, and are distinguished from the similar-looking reef manta by their colouration. While the vast majority of both species of manta are black on top, the oceanic mantas have two very distinct patches of white on their shoulders. The black space between these patches creates a ’T’ shape, whereas the less distinct patches of the reef manta form a ‘Y’ shape.