Mantas are found in temperate and tropical waters worldwide, generally between 35 degrees north and south latitude.
This area includes South Africa, Madagascar, Mozambique to Somalia, the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia to southern Japan, northern Australia, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Fiji, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Hawaii, southern California to northern Peru, North Carolina to southern Brazil, the Azores, and Senegal to Liberia.
The largest populations occur in areas of upwelling along continental shelves, in island chains, and near seamounts. These areas typically have high productivity, with mantas congregating to feed.
Despite their circumglobal distribution, very little is known about the species’ life history or ecology. They are commonly observed near shore at cleaning stations on inshore reefs.