Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A historical and contemporary consideration of the diet of the reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

M. B. Bennett A F , F. F. Coman B , K. A. Townsend C , L. I. E. Couturier A , F. R. A. Jaine D and A. J. Richardson B E
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

A School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

B CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, EcoSciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Road, Dutton Park, Brisbane, Qld 4102, Australia.

C Moreton Bay Research Station, The University of Queensland, PO Box 138, Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island, Qld 4183, Australia.

D Manta Ray and Whale Shark Research Center, Marine Megafauna Foundation, Casa Barry Lodge, Tofo Beach, Inhambane, Mozambique.

E Centre for Applications in Natural Resource Mathematics (CARM), School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: m.bennett@uq.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 68(5) 993-997 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16046
Submitted: 11 February 2016  Accepted: 11 May 2016   Published: 26 July 2016

Abstract

The preserved stomach contents from the manta ray, collected in 1935, that provided the basis for the 2009 taxonomic resurrection of the species Manta alfredi, were examined. The majority of the material comprised calanoid copepods (61.7%) and trypanorhynch cestodes (34.6%), with minor contributions by arrow worms, a barnacle larva and a nematode. Comparison of the size-frequency distributions of stomach contents with that of zooplankton from the Great Barrier Reef region suggest that this manta ray preferentially ingested large copepods, or that the filter mechanism used to extract prey from the water was selective for prey items over 0.8 mm in length. This is the first description of the diet of M. alfredi from stomach contents, and is consistent with previous inferences about what this species consumes.

Additional keywords: elasmobranch, filter-feeding, mobulid, zooplankton.


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