Manta rays are some of the largest animals in our ocean, and they are found in many tropical, subtropical, and temperature waters.
They can look quite frightening if encountered in the wild, but are in fact harmless to humans, and are truly gentle giants.
In this post, we’re going to look at a behavior that many rays exhibit, and answer do manta rays jump out of the water?
Yes, Manta rays, also known as Mobula rays in more recent times can indeed jump up to two meters out of the water before splashing back down into the ocean.
Can Manta Rays Jump?
A recent genetic study in 2017 revealed that manta rays are more closely related to devil rays than previously thought and that they all belong to the same genus family ‘mobula’, whereas previously there were separated between manta and mobula.
Mobula rays are closely related to sharks and are part of the Mobulidae family, which also contains two species of manta rays.
Therefore, although rare behavior for some manta rays, they do actually jump out of the water for reasons that are still very much a mystery.
Groups of manta rays have been spotted jumping out of the water for sometimes hours at a time, especially around the coast of Mexico.
In total there are nine species of mobula ray, and all of them have been witnessed jumping out of the water.
These rays can be seen jumping as high as nine feet or more, it’s a pretty spectacular sight to witness rays jumping.
Why Do Manta Rays Jump Out Of The Water?
The reason why manta and mobula rays jump out of the water is not yet clear, but there are some theories as to why they do it.
Manta rays may jump firstly in order to show off and attract a mate, as well as to remove parasites and also to communicate.
They may also be jumping in order to give birth and to escape predators, but they seem to do it for a reason and it looks as though they enjoy jumping out of the water.
It could even be a way of hunting as a group, there are a number of potential reasons why they may be jumping but the reasons outlined above are the most plausible.
These animals often travel in large groups, hundreds and sometimes even thousands strong. This means when trying to attract a mate, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Jumping out of the water may be a display so that females can identify the strongest of the rays, and for them to attract a suitable partner.
Check out this video of mobula rays jumping out of the water:
As the rays land, the impact of them landing send a huge boom through the water, which may signal to females that this male is suitable to mate with.
It’s also important to note that it’s mainly male rays that jump, but females sometimes jump too, likely to draw attention to themselves.
Those that jump the highest and make the biggest splash, are thought to give themselves the best chances of mating.
When Do Manta Rays Jump?
Manta and mobula rays are often seen jumping out of the water when they are in groups, which indicates that is part of their mating ritual.
Although these animals can live in groups, mantas can also be solitary and when alone often don’t jump out of the water.
Manta rays also take part in migration in order to reach warmer, more abundant waters. During this journey, they will also jump out of the water.
More On Manta Rays
Manta rays are some of the most majestic creatures in our oceans. Often seen gliding through the water, filter-feeding on zooplankton, krill, and other small fish.
Unlike their stingray cousins, they are completely harmless to humans as they do not have a barb that is capable of stinging a human.
This means swimming with manta rays is safe, although precautions should be taken to ensure you stay safe.
They are covered in a mucous film that protects them from bacteria in the wild, which is why they should never be touched in the wild.
Swimming with manta rays is a breathtaking experience, and although they can seem intimidating at first due to their size, they are truly gentle giants.
Manta rays are shy, calm animals that are not aggressive whatsoever. They are not predatory in nature, although they are closely related to sharks.
Manta rays, like fish and other marine life, have gills that they use in order to breathe. They need to constantly be on the move in order to extract oxygen from the water, otherwise, they suffocate and die.
So, do manta rays jump out of the water? Yes, mantas and mobula rays do jump out of the water, likely in order to attract a mate.
We are not quite sure the definitive reason why rays jump, but it’s likely to communicate, clean parasites, for fun, and also to find a suitable mate.
It’s a behavior that is often exhibited whilst the rays are swimming in groups, as mantas don’t usually jump when swimming alone.
Hopefully, this post has been helpful and you’ve learned a thing or two about why manta rays jump out of the water.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to stick around to learn more about rays and other marine life.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.