I've always thought manta rays were beautiful but they weren't originally on the list of marine species I was absolutely obsessed with. That is until I saw one for the very first time and oh boy did that change. There is so much going on behind those eyes. Manta rays are technically fish, but they are a bit different. They have a high encephalization quotient. This means that their brains are very large in size in ratio to their body. In these very large brains, areas for learning, problem solving, intelligence, vision, motor coordination, and communication appear particularly developed. There's even indications that they might be self-aware. This means that like humans, dolphins, elephants, and great apes, they have a sense of self and of being an individual.
Earlier this week was Martin Luther King Day. One of my favorite MLK quotes is "if I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." One of the smallest and greatest ways you can help manta rays is to cut plastic out of your life. These filter feeders are particularly vulnerable to plastic floating at the surface which they can accidentally consume. By buying and using resuable everyday items you can actively stop being a part of this problem. Thank you to Alicia Ward for the wonderful photo and the great day with her and Jim Ward aboard See Through Sea!
You can read more about the intelligence of manta rays below:
"Manta Ray Brainpower Blows Other Fish Out Of The Water"
Encephalization and Brain Organization of Mobulid Rays (Myliobatiformes, Elasmobranchii) with Ecological Perspectives