Giant manta rays were thought to migrate long distances when moving from one population center to another. These migration distances were supposed to span thousands of miles, which is a very impressive distance even for an animal with 24 feet wingspan. Why do research like this? Because manta rays are threatened species, and population numbers make more sense if we know whether they rays migrate, or form their close knit, local subpopulations. Here is the article that summarizes this research:
Study Finds Manta Rays Are Local Commuters; Not Long-Distance Travelers
Oceanic manta rays-often thought to take epic migrations-might actually be homebodies, according to a new study. A Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego-led research team studied satellite-tracked manta rays to shed light on the lives of these mysterious ocean giants.
What could possibly threaten these huge animals? Surprisingly, the answer is in Chinese folk medicine. As it turns out the gill plates of manta rays can bring as much as $500 for a fisherman; traditional Chinese pharmacies are using large amounts of gill plates to treat skin rashes, chickenpox, cancer, and asthma.
These new studies used DNA testing, and migration tracking. So, now we know, for example, that the manta ray population in the Revillagigedo Archipelago in the Baja California, in Mexico doesn’t exchange members with the manta ray population in Indonesia. Therefore, local management and checks on the geographic subpopulations can give meaningful information on how many rays exist, are they increasing or decreasing in numbers.
Manta rays have long been a source of inspiration for Beachfront Pottery; I have made platters, plates, decorative tiles, and bowls using the image of these magnificent animals. The slender, streamlined shape, and the waves of the wings are all features I’ll be using in the future as well.
Here are some examples: