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Manta rays are related to sharks. Sharks and rays are cartilaginous fishes as opposed to bony fishes. Cartilaginous fishes are known as Chondrichthyes.



Rays and sharks are called Elasmobranchs. Loosely translated, elasmos means plate-like or beaten metal and branchia means gills in Latin. Unlike many shark species, manta rays do not have sharp teeth. They possess a sand-paper like tooth band along the lower jaw only.



Manta rays belong to the family of rays referred to as devil rays, scientifically called Mobulidae. Devil rays share the common characteristic of cephalic or head fins. When unfurled, the fins help to funnel in food and water into the mouth. To make the fins more streamlined, devil rays can roll up these flexible appendages. When furled, these fins were thought to resemble a devil’s horns.




(UPDATE THIS) According to Marshall (2009), manta rays are divided into two different species: Mobula birostris and Mobula alfredi.

Mobula birostris

are more oceanic and migratory. They are regularly sighted at offshore islands, oceanic seamounts, submarine ridge systems, and occasionally sighted along the Kona Coast. Mobula birostris are located in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. This species can reach up to 22’ across.

Mobula alfredi

is a smaller species that has an average size of 11’ across. This species is commonly sighted near shore around coral or rocky reefs, often times in residential groups. The species is widespread in tropical waters and found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans.



FUN FACT! Mobula alfredi is the species of manta ray sighted on the Kona Manta Ray Night Dive

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