Watch: Pregnant manta ray spotted 6,000km from home

A pregnant reef manta ray has been spotted for the first time at the remote Cocos Island near Costa Rica, some 6,000km from its normal home.

The threatened species, which can grow up to five metres in length, usually lives in coastal waters, prompting scientists to question how this pregnant fish had come to roam so far across the open ocean.

Footage recorded by the Marine Megafauna Foundation in September shows the ray cruising through the ocean while visibly carrying its young.

Randall Arauz, of marine research and conservation organisation Fins Attached, said: “Reef mantas may travel several hundred kilometres, although they tend not to travel too far offshore.

“It is unclear how this individual could have steered so far off course, leading us to assume it was not intentional.”

The pregnant ray was found to be three-and-a-half metres long, or slightly smaller than a car.

It was fitted with an acoustic tag to track its movements and recordings have so far indicated it has stayed in the area.

Manta rays only give birth every two to five years and no-one has ever seen them give birth in the wild. Scientists will continue to monitor the manta ray’s movements to make sure it is not in harm’s way.

Dr Andrea Marshall, co-founder and principal scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation said: “I have been studying mantas for 16 years and they still constantly surprise me.

“This extraordinary sighting challenges everything we currently know about the migratory behaviour of this species and its ability to undertake long-distance movements across open ocean environments.”

The study, co-authored by scientists from the Marine Megafauna Foundation, Fins Attached, Pelagios Kakunja in Mexico, and CREMA (Centro Rescate Especies Marinas Amenazadas) in Costa Rica, was published in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records on March 20 2019.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Gardening: Something for everyone at Chelsea Flower Show

Why you should go hug a tree

World Bee Day: Why are they so important?

Donal Hickey: Recovery in native trees

More in this Section

Watch: Referee accidentally scores in Dutch league game

The best tweets from the #Elections2019

McDonald’s creates tiny beehive restaurant replica dubbed the ‘McHive’

Chaos With Ed Miliband: Ex-Labour leader changes Twitter name after May exit


Lifestyle

The Long Night has passed but the cultural impact of Game of Thrones is hard to ignore

SkyMatters: When does summer really start?

We Sell Books: ‘We are the oldest bookshop website in the world’

So is this the garden of the future? Eve Kelliher visits Les Jardins d'Etretat in France

More From The Irish Examiner