PHOTOS: Giant Rays' "Feeding Frenzy" Spots Protected

PHOTOS: Giant Rays'
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Mantas in the Maldives (such as this one feeding near a whale shark in an undated photo) number about 10,000 and can reach lengths of 12 feet (3.7 meters).

When krill and plankton get trapped in Hanifaru Bay between May and November, the massive rays exhibit what experts call cyclone feeding: following each other until hundreds of the rays form a spiraling vortex.

(Watch a manta ray feeding-frenzy video, or see more photographs.)

The newly protected bay is "one of the last places on the planet where rays and whale sharks still roam in numbers reminiscent of times gone by," Save Our Seas Foundation marine biologist Guy Stevens said in a statement.
—Photograph by Thomas P. Peschak, NGS Image Collection
 
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