It’s off the coast of Texas, in the NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico, where marine scientists have observed unprecedented numbers of juvenile manta rays.
…”Identifying this area as a nursery highlights its importance for conservation and management, but it also gives us the opportunity to focus on the juveniles and learn about them.”
…It’s thought that manta rays have one baby every 2 to 3 years, giving them an extraordinarily low fecundity rate compared to other cartilaginous fish.
…This means that their young are very valuable indeed, so it stands to reason that they’d be sequestered somewhere safe while the rest of the squadron swims the open seas. However, known aggregation sites are usually far from coastal areas, which makes these fish hard to study – and juveniles are almost completely absent from manta ray populations.