The Manta Ray, a relative of the sharks, is the largest of all rays reaching at least 6.7 m and possibly 9.1 m across the disc. The strange lobes at the front of the head assist in directing water flow to the gaping mouth, with the plankton filtered by specialised gill plates. Mantas are harmless, although occasionally the pointed triangular tips of their flaps, when they are raised above the waters surface over shallow reefs, are mistaken for the dorsal fins of two large sharks.
They usually occur in small groups, near the surface around offshore islands and reefs, and are distributed worldwide in the tropical seas.
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