FAMILY : MOBULIDAE
GENUS : Manta
SPECIES : Manta birostris & Manta alfredi
COMMON NAMES : manta ray, devil ray, devil fish, giant manta, Prince Alfred’s ray.
Manta rays are part of a group known as elasmobranchs and, like the other sharks, skates and rays that comprise this group, they have a cartilaginous rather than a bony skeleton.
Manta rays, together with nine species of devil rays, (family Mobulidae) make up a subfamily known as Myliobatidae. The Myliobatidae contain five genera that feed on hard prey such as molluscs and crustaceans, and two genera that filter plankton from the water.
Based on worldwide differences in size, coloration, and location, manta rays were once thought to comprise several species. However, based on the results of further research, for many years scientists agreed that the genus was in fact a single species.
As recently as 2008 a new species was discovered. The larger ocean-roaming mantas retain the name Manta birostris. Manta alfredi are more commonly associated with reefs, and are named in tribute to Alfred Whitley who first scientifically described manta rays in the 1930s.