by Alex Rose
Photo by Alex Rose
The secret lives of manta rays are relatively unknown to us, but recent research has revealed some fascinating discoveries about rapid color change in these animals and what it might mean.
Manta rays are considered elasmobranchs along with other rays and sharks, and are one of only eleven species in the Mobulidae family including manta and mobula rays. They are currently divided into two recognized species, Manta birostris, which are the larger oceanic mantas, and M. alfredi, which are the smaller, but still impressively large, reef mantas. While both species are considered pelagic, M. birostris is more migratory and seems to have a wider geographic range, having been seen in waters ranging from the east coast of the United States to northern New Zealand. M. alfredi has a smaller home range that is typically restricted to tropical waters, and is more commonly spotted near coral reefs and tropical island chains.