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Rays and skates

A view of the underside of a golden rayA view of the underside of a golden rayRays and their relatives, the skates, are cartilaginous fish with flat bodies and long, narrow tails. Flattened relatives of sharks, most live on the sea floor in coastal waters. Only a few species, such as manta rays, live in the open sea. Rays' gills and mouths are on the undersides of their bodies. They have large, wing-like fins that they flap as they swim, making them look as if they are flying through the water. They feed on fish and shellfish near the seabed using their rounded teeth for crushing shells. Sometimes they hide in the sand to ambush passing prey.

Manta ray

Manta rayManta rayManta rays swimming Manta rays swimming Click to play videoThe largest of the rays, the manta ray grows up to 9 metres (30 feet) across. Its name means “mantle” in Spanish and refers to its cloak-like appearance. It is also called the “devil fish” after its two fins, which look like horns. Dark grey or black on its topside, the manta is pure white on its underside. It has a long, whip-like tail.

Manta rays leaping out of the waterManta rays leaping out of the waterClick to play videoA native of tropical oceans, it sometimes floats on the water’s surface, basking in the hot sun. The manta swims by flapping its huge “wings”. It can even leap right out of the water. Like the blue whale and other ocean giants, the manta ray filters the water for small animals to eat, using its sieve-like gills as a strainer.

A manta ray feedingA manta ray feeding 

Manta rays can leap right out of the water. Females have been known to give birth to their young in mid-air.

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