The secret life of manta rays


You may well be looking at a regular catch-up of friends. New research suggests reef manta rays form structured social bonds. Scientists spent five years studying the relationship between rays in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Marine Park. Despite their wide-ranging mobility, rays tend to return to preferred feeding sites. The researchers say that’s where they develop social bonds. These smaller social groups form part of wider communities. The study identified two such communities in the marine park. One was made up of mostly mature female rays while the other had a mix of males, females, and juveniles. Females seemed to form long-term bonds with each other, while the males tended not to have strong connections. Manta ray populations face a range of threats, including overfishing and ocean pollution, as well as impacts from boating and dive tourism activities. This research may help in finding the best ways for groups of rays and groups of people to co-exist.

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