Movements and Filter Feeding Behavior of Manta Rays

FPSR logo 150px(PI: Misty Paige Tran (University of Washington); Project scientist: Yannis Papastamatiou (FLMNH)) 

Some of the largest fish in the ocean, including giant manta rays and whale sharks, are filter feeders. Recent studies have looked at the biomechanics of filter feeding, and how these differ between species based on the morphology of the filter feeding apparatus, and behavior of the animal in the field. We are complementing morphological and modeling studies of the filter feeding apparatus of manta rays, by using satellite telemetry to quantify manta movements, and locate areas of high manta ray abundance. These areas will be related to estimates of productivity from satellite images. As such, this study is a unique combination of morphology, biomechanics and behavior, and how they combine to explain the ecology of large filter feeders. Field work is conducted at Holbox, Mexico, where manta rays and whale sharks are seasonally abundant in large numbers.

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FPSR Whale Shark