What Are Reef Manta Rays?

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THE MANTA RAY: You could be saving the oceans, one photo at the time.

This gentle sea giant, as its name points out, is a type of ray; the biggest ray of all, up to 7m in diameter. Until 2009 we thought there was only one type of manta, but it appears that although both named under the same genus (which means a class of things that have common characteristics) of manta, they are divided into two species, the reef manta and the giant manta. Rays are a flattened fish descendant of the sharks, from the family of the elasmobranchii which means they are made only of cartilage, which is a tough, fibrous substance, not nearly as hard as bone. Which makes the study of their evolution very complicated, as the cartilage is destroyed.
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Several factors allow us to differentiate them.

Reef mantas tend to be smaller and have a different back pattern than the giant manta. They also have different tails. At the base of the giant manta sits a more pronounced bulge that scientists suspect to be the remains their previous stings, now gone, making the manta ray completely inoffensive.

Finally it is also possible to distinct the gender. Their reproductive organs sit just under their pelvic fins and are fairly easy to distinguish; the male will have not one but two penis like organs called claspers. The female only possesses a slit.

Beyond the simple beauty of these creatures, taking those photos will as divers ensure we are trying to do our best to protect the species in our oceans.

Are you ready to dive and help identify mantas around the world? Make sure that your dive knowledge is up to date with the PADI ReActivate programme.

Planned your dive already but cannot find your card? Get your PADI Replacement Card with the limited edition Blue Water Series and get Manta Ray showcasing the incredible interactions between divers and those gentle
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