|Exhibition:||Oceans & Currents|
|Art Width:||12.0" (30.48 cm)|
|Art Height:||9.0" (22.86 cm)|
|Frame Width:||15.25" (38.74 cm)|
|Frame Height:||12.25" (31.12 cm)|
|Medium:||Gouache on watercolor paper|
The giant manta ray is the largest ray and one of the largest fishes in the world. Reaching widths of up to 29 feet (8.8 m), the manta rays are much larger than any other ray species. For many decades, there was only one known species of manta, but scientists recently divided that species into two: the giant manta ray, which is a more oceanic species; and the reef manta ray, which is more coastal in nature.
Despite their very large size, giant mantas are similar to the largest fishes (whale shark and basking shark) and the largest mammals (blue whale) in that they eat tiny plankton. They constantly swim along with their large mouths open, filtering plankton and other small food from the water. To aid in this strategy, giant mantas have specialized flaps, known as cephalic lobes, which help direct more water and food into their mouths.
The most significant threat to giant manta rays is commercial fishing, both being targeted and caught as bycatch. Although conservation measures have been adapted in many places, demand for manta and other mobula rays’ gill rakers has increased dramatically in Asian markets. Fortunately, their interest to SCUBA divers and other tourism operations makes them more valuable alive than to fishers. This development may afford the giant manta more protection, but their value as meat and for traditional medicinal purposes continue to pose a risk to this species. Therefore, it is important for scientists to continue to monitor giant manta population trends to ensure that they do not continue to decline and to determine if other localized species might exist.
Your purchase of this piece contributes 20% to help Oceana's ongoing efforts to protect this majestic animal continue to thrive in our oceans. Learn more at Oceana.org.