Researchers describe their discovery of the world’s first identified manta ray (Mobula birostris) nursery in a study published in Marine Biology on June 15. Using 25 years of diving records and manta ray identification data, scientists found that 95 percent of the manta ray visitors to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico are juveniles.
“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,” Joshua Stewart, a marine biology doctoral student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and a coauthor on the paper, says in a 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.”
J.D. Stewart et al., “Important juvenile manta ray habitat at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico,” Mar Biol, doi:10.1007/s00227-018-3364-5, 2018.