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Manta Ray Nursery, First of Its Kind, Discovered Off Texas

Manta Ray Nursery, First of Its Kind, Discovered Off Texas

Juvenile manta ray at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. (G.P. Schmahl/FGBNMS)

By    |   Wednesday, 20 June 2018 06:58 PM

Scientists have discovered evidence of the first known manta ray nursery off the Texas coast.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography marine biology graduate student Joshua Stewart made the find while working with members of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries,

According to a news release by the University of California San Diego, the nursery, the first of its kind to be reported in a scientific study, was discovered at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

“The juvenile life stage for oceanic mantas has been a bit of a black box for us, since we’re so rarely able to observe them,” Stewart said in the statement. “Identifying this area as a nursery highlights its importance for conservation and management, but it also gives us the opportunity to focus on the juveniles and learn about them. This discovery is a major advancement in our understanding of the species and the importance of different habitats throughout their lives.”

While adult mantas can reach 40 years of age and have a wingspan up to 23 feet, those visiting the Flower Garden Banks site averaged a 7.38-foot wingspan.

“Nowhere else in the world has a manta ray nursery area been recognized — which heightens the importance of the sanctuary for these pelagic species,” George P. Schmahl, superintendent of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, said in the news release. “The discovery of the sanctuary as a nursery area for the species raises many more questions, some of which we can hopefully start studying with Josh Stewart and other partners.”

Stewart and his colleagues published their findings in the journal Marine Biology on June 15.

The discovery fascinated people on Twitter.

     

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Scientists have discovered a manta ray nursery off the Texas coast, the first of its kind to be reported in a scientific study.
manta, ray, nursery, discovered, texas
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2018-58-20
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 06:58 PM
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