“Manta Rays of the Great Barrier Reef: Unique Traits and Rare Colourations”
During the summer months, majestic ocean giants are drawn to our waters in search of minuscule zooplankton. The term “Manta” originates from the Spanish word for ‘blanket’ or ‘cloak’. The striking spotted patterns on the ventral side of Manta Rays serve as distinctive identifiers, akin to individual ‘fingerprints’.
Interestingly, the world’s oldest known Manta Ray resides in the expanse of the Great Barrier Reef. The elusive Melanistic black Manta Ray has been documented as far back as 1983 when Quicksliver pioneered the inaugural outer reef cruises. Commemorating nearly four decades of sightings on this natural wonder, this remarkable creature, named Taurus, was first photographed in 1982.
Taurus, with its unique pigmentation, can be reliably identified due to the distinct pattern on its ventral surface, which remains remarkably unchanged over its lifespan—a characteristic reminiscent of a human fingerprint.
Remarkably, the eastern coastal reefs of Australia provide habitat to a rare subset of black Manta Rays. Merely about 10% of this population boasts this remarkable coloration, setting them apart as a true rarity.
Among the exceptional Manta Rays, the enigmatic pink specimen stands out. Spotted near Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef, its unusual hue was initially attributed to diet or infection. Scientists now attribute this rare skin pigmentation to a unique genetic expression.
Experience the wonder of these captivating Manta Rays and their extraordinary traits as they grace the Great Barrier Reef with their presence.
© ABC Snorkel Charters 2023