1. Except during mating season, mantas are not known to be social; however, the great fish regularly congregate in areas with plentiful food.
2. Like most reef fishes, mantas regularly attend cleaning stations where certain species of fishes pick parasites from their hovering bodies.
3. Mantas give birth every other year to a single pup, or a pair of four-foot pups that arrive rolled up like burritos.
4. It is not known why mantas leap from the water. Theories abound: to impress females, to help control parasites, to escape predators, or as a means of intraspecific communication.
5. Mantas can grow to nearly 25 feet from wingtip to wingtip, live for a quarter century, and will consume about 60 pounds of plankton and small fish each day by filter feeding.
6. Mantas and their smaller kin, mobulas, were once tagged with the unflattering name “devilfish” because the cephalic lobes attached to each side of their mouths resemble horns. When extended, the flattened lobes help direct food into their mouths.
7. Currently only two species of mantas have been scientifically described, although a third, similar-appearing species inhabiting the Caribbean and Atlantic is suspected.
8. Although useless and nonfunctioning, a manta has approximately 300 rows of skin-covered teeth in its lower jaw.
Ned & Anna DeLoach are beloved naturalists and underwater photographers and videographers known far and wide for their New World Publications, which along with author and photographer Paul Humann has produced the Reef Set marine-life field guides, including Reef Fish Identification, Reef Creature Identification and Reef Coral Identification — Florida, Caribbean and Bahamas.