World’s First Known Manta Ray Nursery Discovered In The Gulf Of Mexico

Posted: Jun 21 2018, 10:37am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
World’s First Known Manta Ray Nursery Discovered in the Gulf of Mexico
A juvenile manta swims at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo Credit: G.P. Schmahl / FGBNMS

Marine Scientists find Globe’s Very First Manta Ray Nursery in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas at NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

A group of scientists, led by a PhD candidate Joshua Stewart, managed to discover the world’s first manta ray juvenile community which was situated in the Gulf of Mexico. Located just off the Coast of Texas, this nursery contains juvenile manta rays.

Up until now, the youth state of the manta ray has been a mystery for most marine biologists. This effort will lead to greater conservation and careful handling of this precious source of biodiversity. The area is one of more than a dozen underwater regions that support a rich cornucopia of marine life forms.

Also by studying these juvenile manta rays, scientists will get to know more about them. It is indeed quite an advance in the knowledge base regarding these curious creatures.

Termed the placid behemoths of the ocean, manta rays mostly feed on plankton and can attain wingspans of up to 7 meters when in their mature state.

They are often found in tropical and subtropical seas. Usually, it is away from coastal areas. This makes studying them a difficult task.

The babies are often absent thus leaving a gap in our knowledge about them. This time though we will be able to gather tons of information regarding manta rays thanks to this discovery.

Manta rays have singular spot designs on their underbellies through which they are identified. These serve the same function as human fingerprints. It was discovered, using this identification process, that up to 95% of the manta rays in the region were juveniles.

This nursery is a source of great interest for marine biologists. For one thing, it is pure and does not bear the imprints of man-made interference. Manta rays are an endangered species.

There is no other manta ray nursery in the global village. Therefore marine biologists have doubled their efforts to save this one from any possible damage or harm.

The research effort, by a graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and colleagues from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, was published in the journal Marine Biology on June 15 by title “Important juvenile manta ray habitat at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.”

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