by Erika (age12, @KNEstemGirls)
Manta rays are known as the Gentle Giants of the Sea and are the flat cousins of sharks. Both are in the Elasmobranchii subclass and are cartilaginous fishes. People fear sharks, but not manta rays. Why?
There are two types of manta rays, the reef manta and the giant manta ray (also known as the Atlantic manta ray). The giant manta rays’ size can be rather large with an average length of 22 feet. The largest wingspan ever recorded was 30 feet long. A female great white shark is usually only 15 or 16 feet long. By comparison, the manta ray is huge.
Another reason may be that sharks have multiple rows of sharp and serrated teeth. Manta rays only have teeth on their lower jaws and they aren’t very visible. However, they are both used for the same purpose: chewing food. Manta Rays usually just eat zooplankton. Feeding is one of two times when manta rays meet, the other is migration.
Manta rays can have one or two pups at a time. They grow in eggs inside the mother, but have live birth. Manta rays don’t have poisonous tail spikes and they try to avoid humans. They aren’t threatening to humans, but may attack if bothered.
Manta rays are Gentle Giants and magnificent creatures. They are listed as vulnerable on the Red List of International Union for the Conservation of Nature and we should try to save them.