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Mantarays

Mantarays are the largest ray in the ocean and are commonly spotted in the Whitsundays. These gentle animals are absolutely magnificent to watch as they swim gracefully through the water. They are extremely curious of people are often approach scuba divers and snorkellers as they make their way around the reef. They are completely harmless, although their sheer size might get your blood pumping as they approach! Sometimes, they will surface near boats they are moored to check them out and see what's going on. They are the only species of ray that does not have a barb, and so are not dangerous to those around it. They feed by filtering water through their mouths and eating the plankton that live in it.

Mantarays are usually black or dark down, with a white underbelly. Although they are reach up to 7.6m across, in the Whitsundays, individuals will usually not reach more than 5m across, which is still an impressive size. This does make them any less amazing to see, as this creature truly is an amazing sight. They have two large flaps on the front of their mouths, as well as a long whip tail at the back of their body. They are large and flat and swim by moving their 'wings' or fins in a soft flapping motion.

Mantarays have the largest brain of all fish and have cartilage instead of bone, much the same as sharks. While they are considered vulnerable worldwide, they are hunted by humans, sharks, killer whales and false killer whales. They don't often interact with their own species, and are mostly solitary creatures, except when they come together to migrate or feed. They have been seen jumping out of the air and breaching, and although the reason is not known, it is assumed it is to communicate or rid themselves of parasites. They are a customer of feeder fish, which will swarm around them and clean off debris and parasites that have attached to their skin.

Females give birth to one or two lives pups, which develop inside eggs inside of their bodies. They usually have offspring every 2-5 years, until they are about 30 years of age.