Flower Garden Banks

A manta ray seen from below

Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA

Manta Ray

Manta rays are popular visitors to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Manta rays can reach 22 feet from fin-tip to fin-tip, but the manta rays that visit this region tend to be much smaller. Recent research suggests that these manta rays may be juveniles using the sanctuary’s waters as part of a nursery range.

A world map highlighting much of the world's ocean

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Manta birostris

DIET: Zooplankton

SIZE: Average 23 feet

LIFE SPAN: About 40 years

THREATS: Commercial fishing, especially bycatch

STATUS: Threatened

FUN FACT: Unique markings on the undersides of manta rays are like our own fingerprints, and help researchers identify individuals.