Where do young manta rays spend their time? Finally, researchers have an answer: Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
In a paper published in Marine Biology, Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar Joshua Stewart and sanctuary researchers Marissa Nuttall, Emma Hickerson, and Dr. Michelle Johnston suggest that Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and the area surrounding it may represent the first documented nursery habitat for oceanic manta rays (Manta birostris) and a potential new species of manta (Manta cf. birostris).
In light of the fact that oceanic manta rays were recently listed as threatened under the Endanger Species Act, this is quite significant. The protections provided within the sanctuary keep juvenile mantas relatively safe from threats affecting them in other parts of the world.
We always knew this place was special. This new finding just makes it more so!