Lady Elliott Island at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef is the center of biodiversity. Its clear waters include mangroves and sea beds, as well as turtles, birds, and apparently some special manta rays. This ghostly black ray, identified this week by marine biologist Jacinta Shackleton, is a relatively rare occurrence, though apparently not in this water. Of the 1400 individual mantras identified from Lady Elliott Island, 80 are melanistic, meaning .5.5 percent of the local population play Gothic getups, according to Project mantas Asia Hein.
Globally, the picture is even more impressive, because, with hundreds of species of cartilaginous fish in the ocean, the manta ray is the only melanism exhibited. And yet for some reason, on Lady Elliott Island, these don’t seem to be out of place at all. melanism is a term used to describe living things whose body tissues become darkened by excess melanin, resulting in some beautiful, jet-black variations of many animals, including reptiles, birds, seals, and most famous cats.
“I’m unsure if this person is new to the database because I didn’t take pictures at the bottom of it,” Shackleton told IFL Science because not all melanistic animals are jet black and some can be identified by spots or patterns. Lady Elliott Island, home to Inspector Klaus, the only known bright pink ray in the world, has already made a name for itself on the Manta Ray Phantom. The so-called “house of manta rays” also observes varying degrees of pale and white rays, as well as Taurus, the world’s oldest recorded manta ray at some mature old age of 40 years.
The manta rays may look like catfish’s big, floppy cousins, but they are actually one of the most impressive denizens in the ocean. They are highly social animals within themselves and are even seen asking people for “help” when they are in trouble. The Manta rays may look like catfish’s large, floppy cousins, but they are actually one of the most impressive denizens in the ocean. They are highly social animals within themselves and are even seen asking people for “help” when they are in trouble.