<p>The manta ray is a graceful swimmer, cruising the world’s temperate and tropical waters by flapping its large pectoral fins. When the mood strikes, however, those fins are used as wings to help launch the ray up to seven feet (two meters) in the air. Mantas have few predators—only large sharks—so it’s not known why they perform such aerial acrobatics. Because they sometimes leap in groups, scientists suspect the behavior may be a form of courtship—or simply a lot of fun.</p>

Manta Ray

The manta ray is a graceful swimmer, cruising the world’s temperate and tropical waters by flapping its large pectoral fins. When the mood strikes, however, those fins are used as wings to help launch the ray up to seven feet (two meters) in the air. Mantas have few predators—only large sharks—so it’s not known why they perform such aerial acrobatics. Because they sometimes leap in groups, scientists suspect the behavior may be a form of courtship—or simply a lot of fun.

Photograph by Ralph Lee Hopkins, National Geographic

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