Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Mobula birostris, Manta, Giant Manta, Giant Manta Ray

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head wide, with large paddles
behind last gill slit: large dark semicircle
pale shoulder blotch - long hook on inside
center shoulder: T shaped black patch
mouth at front, black

Mobula birostris (Walbaum, 1792)

Giant Manta, Manta, Giant Manta Ray

Head relatively wide, projecting with a pair of paddle-like extensions; large triangular "wings" (pectoral fin flaps); mouth at front of head, relatively wide; teeth in lower jaw only, those in a band that spans 65-70% of width of jaw, in 12-16 rows; tail long and whip-like, with a spine largely encased in a calcified mass; skin of top and bottom of disc with longitudinal ridges, densely embedded with overlapping, multicuspid denticles.

Dark grey to black above; mouth black to dark grey, that color often extending back to first gill slits; very distinct T-shaped black patch on center of shoulders; whitish patches on sides of shoulders triangular & with a large rear facing hook on inner side, front edge of shoulder patch runs from spiracle to a line parallel to edge of top jaw; underside white, with a pair of large, semicircular dark blotches immediately behind last gill slit, no spots centrally between gill slits; if present spots on underside clustered around rear of abdomen; typically with entire rear edge of pectoral fin dark

Size: to 7 m disc width and over two tons in weight; longevity ~40 y.

Habitat: inshore and nearshore pelagic.

Depth: 0-1928 m.

Circumtropical; Rhode Is to Uruguay.

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • In & Offshore
  • Inshore
  • Offshore
Water Column Position
  • Near Surface
  • Surface
  • Water column only
  • Water column
  • Estuary
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Bony fishes
  • Pelagic crustacea
  • Pelagic fish eggs
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Live birth
  • No pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America)
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Vulnerable
  • Appendix II
  • Listed
Length Max
  • 700
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 1928