Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Manta Ray in California!

What species is this?

Wow wow wow!

Have you seen this post?
Now, I know nothing about kelp diving and what to expect there - but it looks like the Niño is driving all kinds of tropical Fishes north, so having a Manta migrate north from, say, their known range in Baja/Socorro doesn't seem like such a big deal.
But watch the video.

See what I mean?
That's not one of the Pelagic Mantas that are ubiquitous on the tropical West coast of the Americas - that's a Reef Manta! Mantas have been shown to change color, but that apparently does not apply to the ventral side - and if you look at the comparative pictures, that Manta is definitely not featuring an uninterrupted dark terminal band but is instead featuring coloration that is diagnostic for Manta alfredi!

Check out the distribution of the Reef Manta.
See? No records for the Eastern Pacific, meaning that this is either a massive range extension, or that this is a straggler that must have swum over from either French Polynesia or more likely, the Hawaiian Islands - and this in a species that is generally believed to be highly coast-oriented!



Johann MOURIER said...

I have to say that for this point I disagree with you. For me, that's not a reef manta (M. alfredy). Indeed it has no spots between the gills but if you have a look at dorsal margin, it is typical of Manta birostris with also 2 dots just above the gills on the ventral side. So in my opinion, this is a M. birostris and the most easterly location of Manta alfredi in the Pacific remains Marquesas Island (French Polynesia). Paper:
But who knows, maybe one day we will see a M. alfredi in the West side of America...

DaShark said...

Aaaah mon ami - mais pas du tout!

Check out these pictures: in the ventral view, birostris has an uninterrupted dark terminal band - alfredi has dark wing tips.

Now, check out the video!

DaShark said...

Having said that... I concede!

I can't see the terminal band but in all fairness, that may be the result of overexposure - but that dark area around the eyes appears unequivocal.

And if so, it is birostris!

dr said...


to be honest, never heared about the Remnant spine. But thanks to the Link to mantamatcher, I will also vote for birostris, because of the Remnant spine


Johann MOURIER said...

From Dr Andrea Marshall:
"Manta birostris for sure. It is not unheard of, I am from California and it happens from time to time, it is just better documented now that people have cameras for proof."

So yes indeed it is a M. birostris, which is occassionally sighted in Californian waters.

DaShark said...


And since the Queen has spoken, this definitely closes the debate!

Merci Johann!