A graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and colleagues from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries have discovered the world’s first known manta ray nursery.
Located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas at NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, the juvenile manta ray habitat is the first of its kind to be described in a scientific study.
Joshua Stewart, a marine biology Ph.D. candidate at Scripps and lead author of the study, observed the juvenile mantas while conducting research on manta population structure at Flower Garden Banks, one of 15 federally designated underwater areas protected by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
“The juvenile life stage for oceanic mantas has been a bit of a black box for us, since we’re so rarely able to observe them,” said Stewart, who also serves as executive director of the Manta Trust, a global manta conservation program.
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