The giant manta ray is a bit of an enigma in the ocean world. Though they are the third-largest sea creature, with only whales and sharks being larger, not much is known about them. Their large size (up to 25 feet across and 5,300 pounds!) makes it extremely difficult to keep one in captivity for observation. Currently there are just four giant manta rays in captivity.
The term manta is Spanish for blanket and it aptly describes the look of the rays’ large “wings” as they swim. They are extremely strong swimmers, and it’s possible they are able to swim across the open ocean.
Manta rays live in tropic and sub-tropic waters. They frequently visit “cleaning stations” where small fish swim over their skin, feeding on dead tissue and parasites. Manta rays themselves are bottom feeders, eating things like plankton and fish larvae.
Images via here and here.