New Manta Ray species discovered
Washington, August 2 (ANI): Scientists have discovered a new Manta Ray species that is a highly migratory animal wandering the world's seas.
Manta rays are graceful giants in the ray family that can weigh over 4,400 pounds (2,000 kilograms).
The more commonly known manta ray is smaller and more easily seen, usually staying near coasts. Little is known about a second, larger species that avoids contact with humans and seems to have wider migration patterns. It also has evolutionary remnants of a spine and a harmless, non-stinging barb on its tail.
According to a report in Discovery News, the species discovery was the unexpected result of five years of hard work and a bit of good fortune, by a team from Australia's University of Queensland.
"As luck would have it, it looks like here in Mozambique is the only [known] location where we see both species interacting on the same reef," said Andrea Marshall, a Ph.D candidate at Australia's University of Queensland.
While both manta species roam all the oceans, they appear to have a different lifestyle.
The smaller rays-familiar to divers in Hawaii, the Maldives, Mozambique, Australia, and Japan-are year-round residents of certain marine spots, such as coral reefs.
Scientists suspect the larger, more mysterious, rays are highly migratory animals that wander the world's seas.
Though much of Marshall's time was spent underwater, she also logged long hours collecting data around the world in a search for proof that the species were distinct.
To build her case she pursued evidence from DNA labs and Indonesian fishing villages, where the migrating species is still commonly caught.
According to Rachel Graham of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Punta Gorda, Belize, "We were just incredibly excited about this. The work was very in-depth and I think (for the most part) the group was convinced." (ANI)
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