Manta rays are the largest species of rays recorded to date. A typical adult manta ray can grow up to 29 feet with a wingspan of about 30 feet. There are further two types; reef manta rays and giant Manta-rays, the latter being the larger. Manta rays grow broader and larger in their 40-year lifespan.
Have you ever ridden a double-decker bus? That’s the typical size of a manta ray. That means it can carry around 42 people on its back. But it wouldn’t be so wise to do so.
Even though they are enormous, their weight is astounding. An adult manta ray can weigh up to 3,600 pounds. This is just a fraction of how magnificent these marine creatures are. Here is a glimpse of the magnitude that is bound to make you curious.
Manta rays of different ages can be of different sizes. The giant manta rays and reef manta rays also differ in size. An average giant manta ray has a wingspan of 13 feet, with some reports of it being as large as 29 feet.
The wingspan of a giant manta ray is so large that it would take nearly six adults lying flat on their backs to cover the manta ray from wing to wing. As for the reef manta rays, it would only take 4.
According to reports, if you were to swim alongside a manta ray, you won’t even be able to cover one of the wings, lengthwise. It comes as no surprise considering that manta rays can grow up to 5 to 6 feet in height as adults, whereas they are born 3.3 feet long.
How Big Is an Average Manta Ray?
Manta rays grow to different sizes, just like humans. Many onshore residents have witnessed the size of manta rays to be, on average, almost 14 feet. Researchers from Ecuador also recorded the average manta ray to be 14 feet.
Manta rays of average size also have a different weight than other manta rays, like reef and giant manta rays. On average, they can weigh up to 1600 kg.
Manta rays give birth to babies that are 3.3 feet in size, on average. Giant manta rays have offspring that are almost 3.7 to 4.5 feet long. As reef manta rays are smaller in size, they are smaller when born than giant manta rays.
According to recent reports, the smallest manta ray has been discovered around the shores of Australia. The infant was reported to be as small as 2 feet. That is the smallest manta ray recorded to date.
The giant Manta ray is the largest manta ray species. An adult giant manta ray can grow from 23 to 28 years old. They can weigh as much as 4,000 pounds.
The distinctive characteristic of the giant manta ray is its flat body and big pectoral fins. They have a wingspan of up to 23 feet. Giant manta rays are one of the biggest marine creatures, surpassing many sharks. Read more.
What Is the Largest Manta-Ray Ever Recorded?
The largest Manta ray was a giant manta ray with a 30 feet wingspan.
In 1933, fishermen from Canada caught a giant manta ray off the coast of New Brunswick. The size and weight of this creature were nothing like anything they had seen before.
This manta ray was 23 feet in length and had a wingspan of 30 feet. While an average giant manta ray weighs about 3500 pounds, this massive creature weighs more than 5000 pounds.
This went on to hold the record for being the largest Manta ray ever discovered.
Read more about the conservation of Manta rays here.
Are Manta Rays Bigger Than Sharks?
Although manta rays are large animals, are they larger than sharks? It is easier to establish with a proper comparison. With that being said, there are different species of sharks as well, some big, some small.
Manta Rays and Bull Sharks
The bull shark is one of the deadliest sharks in the world. Despite that, it is small. Bull shark males grow around 7 feet in size, with females slightly larger, at around 11 feet. This makes them smaller than both reef manta rays and oceanic giant manta rays.
Manta Rays and Great White Shark
The great white shark, the largest predator shark, is still not as big as the oceanic manta ray. Though the largest white shark ever recorded is 20 feet, they are usually smaller. Males can grow up to 13 feet tall, while females can reach heights of 19 feet.
The great white is now larger than most reef manta rays but still smaller than oceanic giant manta rays. But only in size. The great white shark beats the oceanic manta ray in weight with a raging 5000 pounds.
Manta Rays and Tiger shark
Tiger sharks are one of the largest species of sharks. They will eat anything, from small turtles to other sharks, and are incredibly lethal in their attacks.
Tiger sharks can grow up to 24.6 feet, which is just a few feet short of an average oceanic giant manta ray. While the giant ocean ray can grow as big as 29 feet, the reef manta ray is still small.
Most sharks might be smaller than Manta rays, but they still outweigh them. Furthermore, they are one of the deadliest creatures in the ocean. So, who is in danger in that aspect?
Manta rays are bigger. They can grow up to 30 feet with a wingspan of 23 feet. In comparison, eagle rays grow up to 16.4 feet with a wingspan of 10 feet.
Giant Manta rays were declared rare after research carried out in 2018, They are also declared endangered under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
With a wingspan of 23 feet, manta rays are larger than stingrays, which only reach a maximum height of 6 feet.
Manta rays, the largest creature, even bigger than the great white shark, are still gentle. It can dive into the deepest part of the ocean as well as fly out of the water playfully.
Manta rays are one of the most magnificent marine animals. I remember watching it for the first time in ‘Finding Nemo and being absolutely in awe. Sadly, these gentle creatures are endangered now, and we need to try to save them from any possible threat.