RAPID COLORATION CHANGES
The natural coloration and body pigmentation of manta rays has been considered permanent over their lifespan. Recently, a new discovery published in the Biological Journal of The Linnean Society by Dr. Csilla Ari, describes rapid and long-term body pigmentation changes on manta rays. Individual manta rays are identified from patterns of ventral markings worldwide and the body coloration of manta rays is used for species identification as well.
The rapid coloration changes occured within minutes on the head and on the dorsal side of the manta rays during feeding times and during intense social interaction. The exact role and mechanism of these changes are still unknown, but it is very likely that it might serve as a form of communication between the animals.
Same manta ray in two different coloration states
LONG-TERM BODY PIGMENTATION CHANGES
Body pigmentation and spot patterns have been considered unique and permanent during the lifetime of a manta ray. Our new study, published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society is the first description of long-term body pigmentation changes that were documented on a captive manta ray. New markings appeared and some markings darkened in only 9 months on the head and on the ventral side of the manta ray.
These results show that coloration patterns of manta rays are not as stable as has been assumed previously.
The two images show the ventral side of the same manta ray 9 months apart