A somersaulting giant manta ray? Trust me, it’s just as spectacular as it sounds.
For years and years, marine biologist have always speculated that there wasn’t just one species of manta ray—there’s two. Morphology speaking, the size dimorphisms between these two blatant—at the time, only recognized as “populations”—migratory groups raised a brow to any well-practiced, qualitative researcher. And Andrea Marshall had both brows sky-high.
In the video below, provided by Save our Seas Foundation, Andrea goes into how she not only became enamored with these space-holding manta rays, but also how the following research lead to a new taxa.
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Giant manta rays were once genera-bunched with the more residential reef manta ray (Manta alfredi), the giant oceanic manta ray represents a clear genetic drift in the “ancestral” ray that spawned the Manta genus.
These animals not only attain larger sizes than their smaller counterparts, but they appear to also be significantly more migratory animals—giant manta rays also boast dorsal “T,” noted in the area’s black contrast.
Giant manta rays are listed as a vulnerable species, due to “pirate fishing,” cast-netting, and amassing ocean debris.