Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ocean Science: Manta Rays

Today's science study took us into the world of rays and skates. This isn't a new subject to us after our sting ray encounter(s) over the past summers. In fact, we were amazed one day last summer to find a sting ray washed ashore. We attempted to help him get back out to see, but we were a bit late in our attempts. The ray was amazingly huge and that was nothing compared to how heavy he was! We couldn't budge the thing, which was a total shame, because we were quite eager to see his underside and check out the gills and mouth and so on.

Anyway, today took us to exploring Manta Rays which are even bigger then the sting ray we have on our own beach(es). We were amazed to learn that this little, well he's not little at all considering he can weigh up to 3,000 pounds and have a wingspan range of 6-9 meters, ray doesn't have a barb in his tail. You can read gobs more information about him hover at Western Australia Marine Park site.

We enjoyed watching this short, but informative, video about manta ray put out by Dive Into Your Imagination. It was a nice close encounter style video, and if you watch closely you'll see the Manta open his mouth to scoop in water and plankton (yes he syphons off the water much like a whale) and when he flips over you'll also see his gills opening and closing. We paused at each of those segments in the video so we could have a closer look.

Then we watched this fun, but short, video of an entire school of Manta Ray leaping out of the water. Did you know they did that? We didn't, we were impressed to be able to see it as the rays we have here are seabed dwellers and only scavenge off the floor. The Manta Ray actually eats plankton, go figure! Then there's this awesome video, much lengthier, of someone's dive off of Bat Island in Costa Rica. It was also a fun watch. You'll see the Manta Ray up much closer in some of that footage too.

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