In the article “Manta Rays vs Stingrays – Here’s the Difference” by Wildlife Informer, readers will learn about the distinctions between manta rays and stingrays. While they may appear similar, these two creatures have significant differences that set them apart. Both belonging to the same family as sharks, manta rays and stingrays are flat fish equipped with wings for gliding through water. However, the article sheds light on their distinctions, including size, habitat, diet, and potential dangers. The author also shares personal experiences swimming with manta rays, emphasizing their harmless nature. Conversely, the article explains that stingrays possess venomous barbs on their tails and can be dangerous if threatened. By exploring these differences and similarities, readers gain a deeper understanding of these fascinating marine creatures.
Differences between Manta Rays and Stingrays
Size and Appearance
Manta rays are known for their large size, with the giant manta ray being the largest of all rays. They can have a wingspan of up to 29 feet, be up to 23 feet long, and weigh up to 5300 pounds. Stingrays, on the other hand, are generally smaller, with some species having a wingspan of only 10 inches. In terms of appearance, manta rays have a more triangular shape, while stingrays have a diamond or rhombus shape.
Habitat and Range
Manta rays are migratory and can be found worldwide. They can survive in cooler waters as low as 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, but prefer warmer waters. Stingrays, on the other hand, can be found in tropical and subtropical oceans all over the world, mainly in shallow waters.
Manta rays are filter feeders and eat plankton almost exclusively, but they may also eat other tiny marine organisms including small fish and crustaceans. Stingrays, on the other hand, have a more varied diet. They eat mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish.
Similarities between Manta Rays and Stingrays
Both manta rays and stingrays are cartilaginous fish and belong to the same family as sharks. This means that they do not have bones and their skeletal structures are made primarily of cartilage.
Both manta rays and stingrays are ovoviviparous, which means they give birth to live young. This is different from other fish species that lay eggs.
Both manta rays and stingrays have large triangular pectoral fins that they use to swim through the water. These fins give them a wing-like appearance and allow them to glide gracefully.
Are Manta Rays and Stingrays Fish or Mammals?
Classification as Fish
Both manta rays and stingrays are classified as fish. Despite their similarities in appearance to other marine mammals like dolphins and whales, they do not possess the characteristics that define mammals, such as the ability to nurse their young with milk.
Both manta rays and stingrays have a cartilaginous structure, similar to sharks. This means that their bodies are supported by cartilage rather than bones.
Species of Manta Rays
There are two species of manta rays: giant manta rays and reef manta rays. When referring to manta rays, most people are talking about the giant manta rays.
Size and Dimensions
Giant manta rays are the largest of all rays, with a wingspan of up to 29 feet, a length of up to 23 feet, and a weight of up to 5300 pounds.
Habitat and Distribution
Manta rays are migratory and can be found worldwide. They can survive in cooler waters as low as 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, but they prefer warmer waters.
Manta rays are filter feeders and eat plankton almost exclusively. However, they may also eat other tiny marine organisms, including small fish and crustaceans.
Manta rays can live for about 40 years in the wild.
Manta rays are listed as threatened under the endangered species act. This is due to various factors, including habitat loss, pollution, and overfishing.
Are Manta Rays dangerous?
Myth of Manta Ray Danger
Manta rays are completely harmless, unless you are plankton. There is a common misconception that manta rays are dangerous due to their large size and resemblance to other marine creatures like stingrays. However, manta rays do not have stingers or poisonous barbs like stingrays.
Teeth or Lack Thereof
Manta rays do have hundreds of teeth, but they never use them. They are filter feeders and rely on their gill rakers to filter out and trap tiny organisms from the water.
Many people have had the opportunity to snorkel or dive with manta rays and have found them to be gentle and friendly creatures. Their constant swimming and feeding behavior make them unlikely to pose any danger to humans.
Diversity and Species
There are 220 known species of stingrays, some of which live in freshwater and some in saltwater. Many of these species also fall into either threatened or endangered categories.
Size and Weight
Stingrays come in various sizes, with some species having a wingspan of 16.5 feet and weighing up to 1,320 pounds, while others have a wingspan of only 10 inches.
Habitat and Range
Stingrays can be found in tropical and subtropical oceans all over the world, mainly in shallow waters. They like to bury themselves in the sand where they silently wait for their next meal.
Most stingrays eat mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish.
Stingrays can live for 15-25 years in the wild.
Stingrays have venom embedded in their tail spines, which can be dangerous if envenomation occurs. While they are considered to be docile and shy creatures, they will only attack if threatened or cornered.
Are Stingrays dangerous?
Stingrays are generally not dangerous and will only attack if threatened or cornered. It is important to approach them with caution and to respect their space.
Venomous Spines and Human Interaction
The venom in stingray spines can cause pain, swelling, and other symptoms in humans. While it is rare for this venom to be fatal to humans, it is still important to seek medical attention if stung by a stingray.
Facts about Manta Rays
Manta rays are ovoviviparous, which means that they give birth to live young. They do not lay eggs.
Size and Growth
Manta rays can grow to be the largest of all rays, with giant manta rays having a wingspan of up to 29 feet.
Manta rays can live up to 40 years in the wild.
Manta rays are filter feeders and eat predominantly plankton. They rely on their gill rakers to filter out and trap tiny organisms from the water.
While mantas can close their mouths, they regularly swim with their mouths open to continuously funnel food into their mouths as they swim.
An adult giant manta ray can eat up to 60 pounds of food each day.
Facts about Stingrays
Poisonous or Not
Stingrays have venom embedded in their tail spines, which can be dangerous if envenomation occurs. However, they are not generally considered poisonous, as many cultures consume stingrays as food.
As cartilaginous fish, stingrays do not have bones. Their bodies are supported by cartilage, similar to sharks.
Stingrays give birth to live young and do not lay eggs.
Unlike some other marine animals, stingrays do not have umbilical cords or placentas to nourish their young.
Baby stingrays, called pups, are born alive and fully formed. They are able to swim and fend for themselves from birth.
In conclusion, manta rays and stingrays may look similar, but they have significant differences in size, appearance, habitat, feeding habits, and reproductive methods. Manta rays are larger, filter feeders, and prefer warmer waters, while stingrays are generally smaller, have a more varied diet, and can be found in both freshwater and saltwater environments. Both species are cartilaginous fish and belong to the shark family, but manta rays are not dangerous to humans, while stingrays can be if threatened or envenomation occurs. It is important to respect and protect marine life, including manta rays and stingrays, to ensure their preservation in our oceans.