The world of science witnessed the discovery of another wonder as the University of California in San Diego has identified a first of its kind nursery for manta rays. The nursery has been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico and in this place, the giant wonders of sea life come in the view of divers near the colorful reefs which makes the visual nothing less than a scene from the imagination of Walt Disney.
The discovery was made by an exploration team under the leadership of Josh Stewart, a doctoral candidate in marine biology at the Scripp’s Institution of Oceanography of the University of California. The exploration team also established the significance of the discovery over the course of the recent years. Josh Stewart was assisted in his efforts by his colleagues from the NOAA which is responsible for management of the site. NOAA is a concern of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuaries located almost 115km to the south of Galveston in Texas.
Adult manta rays could be found easily as divers could witness them at various locations. However, the mystery pertaining to the behavior of juvenile manta rays has been consistently eluding scientists as they do not swim openly in specific places during the period of 4 to 5 years required for their transition to adulthood.
Stewart has invested his efforts prominently in solving the mystery with minor success in the year 2016 when he witnessed a juvenile oceanic manta ray of the species Mobula Birostris. Subsequently, he also witnessed more juvenile manta rays with the assistance of NOAA researchers with the assumption that he had found a nursery. According to a statement given by Stewart to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the juvenile manta rays could be feeding on certain variants of zooplankton found in the area where seafloor slopes into deeper water. He also added that the manta rays could be hanging around the banks considering its perception of safety as compared to open water.