Q:

What do manta rays eat?

A:

Quick Answer

The manta ray's diet consists mainly of the small plants and animals that make up plankton. They also eat shrimp, crab and small fish that are swept up in the process of filter feeding.

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Full Answer

Manta rays hunt using both sight and smell. Once prey is located, the manta rays herd their food by swimming around a group of plankton in tightening circles until there is a concentrated mass of the organisms. Then the manta ray tightens its cephalic fins around its mouth to form a funnel and swims, open-mouthed, in a straight line through the mass. Spongy plates along the animal's gills collect the food, and the filtered water passes through the gills back into the ocean. The food is then pushed into the manta ray's stomach.

The largest manta rays grow in excess of 20 feet wide, weigh over 2,900 pounds, and consume up to 60 pounds of food per day. They primarily hunt at night, but hunt both day and night if food is scarce. Manta rays are attracted to coral reefs and areas where sea animals gather to have parasites removed by cleaner fish and shrimp. The manta rays remember these areas and return frequently to hunt.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are examples of plankton?

    A:

    There are two primary examples of plankton: zooplankton and phytoplankton. Both of these plankton types are marine plankton, and they are found in the ocean.

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  • Q:

    What eats plankton?

    A:

    Numerous organisms in the sea consume plankton, including all baleen whales like blue whales and bowhead whales, fish like whale sharks and other filter-feeders. Plankton have long been attributed as the foundation of the ocean food web, and can be separated into two distinct and different groups: phytoplankton and zooplankton. Both have contributed immensely to the ecosystem by harvesting energy through photosynthesis and converting it into essential nutrients.

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    Is plankton a producer or decomposer?

    A:

    Plankton can be producers, consumers or recyclers, depending on which trophic level they belong to. All plankton are classified as one of three types: phytoplankton, zooplankton and bacterioplankton.

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  • Q:

    How long do plankton live?

    A:

    Most animal plankton (zooplankton) and plant plankton (phytoplankton) live several months, but some species may live for more than a year. However, there are thousands of species of plankton, making it impossible to pinpoint a specific average life span that can apply to all plankton species.

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