Description: A giant ray with a broad head and large head fins protruding forward. Predominantly black dorsal side, occasionally with white patches between head and wings. Ventral side predominantly white with grey blotches which can be used for individual identification.
Distribution and Habitat: Population of giant mantas is found around the globe in tropical and temperate waters. Occurs in neritic and oceanic pelagic zones, particularly where upwelling occurs such as coast lines, oceanic islands and seamounts. Presents patterns of diel habitat use, feeding at depths up to 1000 meters at night and moving into the shallows (up to 0 meters) during the day.
Size: Maximum recorded size at 700 cm disc width. Size at birth of 122-200 cm disc width.
Reproduction: Aplacental viviparous. Litter size consists of one pup after a gestation period of 12-13 months. Female reproductive periodicity is unknown, but assumed to occur every 4-5 years. Females reach sexual maturity around 380-500 cm disc width, and males mature around 350-400 cm disc width.
Life Span: Estimated to be about 45 years based on the life span of the reef manta ray (Mobula alfredi).
Diet: Zooplankton and krill.
Status: Endangered as of November 2019.
Human Pressures: Both targeted and caught as bycatch in commercial and artisanal fisheries. Diel movements and the highly migratory nature of giant manta rays makes them highly susceptible to being caught in fishing gear such as purse seines, longlines, gillnets and driftnets. When caught as bycatch, they are typically retained due to high market value.