Nature

Rare Discovery of Manta Ray Nursery Off Texas Coast Has Scientists Amazed

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Announcing on Monday, June 18, that a manta ray nursery ground has been located at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the Texas coast, scientists from the University of California, San Diego are hoping to further encourage efforts to save coral reefs.

Manta rays are presently in high demand in China – valued for their gills. To protect them from endangerment, scientists will further study this discovery which has taken place in a sanctuary habitat that is managed by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.) It’s only the second such discovery of its kind, the first of which was found in Raja Ampat in Indonesia as part of a study being completed by Conservation International just three years ago.

Rare Discovery Off Texas Coast of Manta Ray Nursery Has Scientists Amazed

Photo: Facebook/Sailing SV Delos Via Alex Blue

Due to its prime location in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists believe that the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary offers young manta rays the opportunity to recover their body temperatures in its healthy coral reef habitat after “accessing deep, cold waters off the continental slope.” Juvenile rays are the lion’s share of the species’ visits to the sanctuary, at approximately 95 percent.

Rare Discovery Off Texas Coast of Manta Ray Nursery Has Scientists Amazed

Photo: Facebook/The Bucket List Family

Josh Stewart, the lead author of a recent study on this discovery, has called it “a huge leap towards furthering our knowledge of manta rays.” He explained, “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. Identifying this area as a nursery highlights its importance for conservation and management, [and] gives us the opportunity to focus on the juveniles and learn about them.”