How much plankton do mantas eat?

by | Feb 26, 2018 | Uncategorized


This is a big number! And it is the number of plankton pieces a 10-foot manta ray needs to consume per week. WOW!

Let’s back up a little.

A recent Facebook Live Broadcast was about the diet of a manta ray to answer one of the most frequently asked questions we receive:

How much plankton do mantas eat?”

I am not an expert on plankton but we know that over 5,000 species of plankton exist. It looks like a snowstorm when you turn on a light in the ocean at night. Just like moths are drawn to light, plankton is drawn to it as well.

There are only four places known for keeping mantas in captive programs.

Huge tanks are needed to keep a manta alive and swimming so the aquariums in Georgia (USA), Lisbon (Portugal), Atlantis (Bahamas) and Okinawa (Japan) must have come up with this number that a manta ray needs 12% of its body weight in plankton per week to survive.

I cannot imagine researching this in the wild.

Anyway, this leads to this following math equation for a manta with a 10’ wingspan… you are going to love it 🙂

Every foot of a manta ray weights 100 lbs

This makes our example 10 foot manta ray a 1,000 lbs creature

12% of 1,000 lbs is 120 lbs of plankton

A few years ago Kara Osada-D’Avella studied the plankton on the coast line and established that 10,000 pieces of plankton weigh 1 dry ounce

There are 16 ounces in 1 lbs which concludes that a manta ray consumes (120 x 16 x 10.000) 19,200,000 pieces plankton every week.

What an awesome number and yes, Mother Nature created not only a beautiful ocean angel but also a gorgeous creature with one big mouth 🙂

Pelagic vs Reef Mantas


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