manta ray

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(Manta birostris),

a member of the family Mylobatidae that includes 42 species of rays that are relatives of sharks with bodies that are flattened dorso-ventrally. Mantas swim using their pectoral fins like wings. The tail is rodlike and unarmed. On either side of the head are two lappets that protrude forward like horns, hence their popular name of devilfish—a misnomer because they are placid gentle giants. The lappets herd plankton and small fishes into the mouth. A fully-grown manta has a wingspan of 9 metres (29 ft) and it weighs 1,350 kilograms (3,000 lb.). They occur everywhere in the tropics. A female manta gives birth to one or two large young, each having a wingspan of 1.2 metres (4 ft) and weighing 10 kilograms (22 lb). Mating mantas occasionally breach, leaping 5 metres (16.5 ft) clear of the water.

M. V. Angel

Subjects: Maritime History.

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