Manta Rays Tracked In First Deep-Sea Satellite Study
Manta rays have been tracked by scientists in the world’s first deep-sea satellite study.
The L.A. Times reports that a team, which was headed by Rachel T. Graham of the Wildlife Conservation Society, located in Punta Gorda, Belize, worked on the study.
The researchers attached transmitters to six of the massive rays, four females, one male, and one juvenile. The huge creatures were tracked off of the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and scientists gathered data for 27 to 64 days, until the transmitters fell off.
The manta ray, Manta birostris, is often called “devilfish,” and is the largest of the rays. Some can reach as big as 25 feet across. The fear of the huge creatures, which are related to sharks, is unfounded as they are completely harmless to humans.
According to Live Science, study team member Matthew Witt, who works with the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute stated that:
“The satellite tag data revealed that some of the rays traveled more than 1,100 kilometers [621 miles] during the study period. The rays spent most of their time traversing coastal areas plentiful in zooplankton and fish eggs from spawning events.”
The rays did stay close to the coastline, and spent a large amount of their time in shipping lanes, which make them vulnerable to being hit by freighters.
Howard Rosenbaum, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Ocean Giant Program, and a marine biologist, said of the study:
“Studies such as these are critical in developing effective management of manta rays, which appear to be declining worldwide.”
According to Red Orbit, Graham also stated of the giant sea creatures that:
“Almost nothing is known about the movements and ecological needs of the manta ray, one of the ocean’s largest and least-known species. Our real-time data illuminate the previously unseen world of this mythic fish and will help to shape management and conservation strategies for this species.”
Check out more information about manta rays here: