Black beauty The pelagic manta ray (Manta Birostris) is the biggest living ray species in the world. It can reach lengths of over 7m from wingtip till wingtip weighing up to 1400 kg’s! Different from their reef cousins (Manta Alfredi) they tend to migrate long distances across the vast blue ocean rather than sticking to the reefs.
Manta Birostris seem to come in two color variations, the chevron manta and the black manta (color variations on the belly and the back of the manta´s indicate the difference). As about 30% of the population seems to consist of the black manta´s they are slightly more difficult to find.
Only in 2009 the pelagic manta genus was split from the reef manta indicating how little we actually know about these animals. These are gentle, curious animals listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Population sizes have been dropping considerably since they are sought after as a source of food, shark bait and for Chinese bogus medicinal purposes.
Recently Indonesia set an example by placing a ban on catching both manta species to protect their remaining populations as the value of a living manta in tourism is deemed way higher than a dead one shipped to be used in traditional medicine. by joostvanuf