Manta Ray, Mobula alfredi (Krefft 1868)

Other Names: Alfred Manta, Australian Devil Ray, Coastal Manta Ray, Devilfish, Inshore Manta Ray, Munguna, Prince Alfreds Ray, Prince Alfred's Ray, Reef Manta Ray, Resident Manta Ray

A Manta Ray, Manta alfredi. Source: Lydie Couterier. License: CC BY Attribution

The Manta Ray is often encountered in large numbers when feeding and individuals are sometimes seen travelling in schools. In Australia, divers are more likely to encounter the Manta Ray than the Giant Manta Ray, Mobula birostris.

In publications prior to the revision of the family Mobulidae (White et al. 2017) Mobula alfredi was known as Manta alfredi.

Video of a Manta Ray at Julian Rocks near Byron Bay, New South Wales.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Mobula alfredi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2024,

Manta Ray, Mobula alfredi (Krefft 1868)

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Known on Australian waters from about Perth, Western Australia, around the tropical north to at least Sydney, New South Wales; also Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal in tropical waters.
Although Manta Rays are often seen inshore around coral and rocky reefs in tropical and subtropical waters, they also occur around offshore reefs and seamounts. 

Individuals undertake seasonal migrations and aggregate at certain sites, presumably during times of high seasonal plankton productivity. 


Manta rays have a broad mouth at the end of the head with a single band of minute teeth in the upper jaw. They have two cephalic lobes on the front of their heads that help direct water flow into the mouth. Mantas have gills modified into complex sieving plates through which filter plankton from the water. 
Manta Rays feed in surface waters, as well as diving beyond the continental shelf to feed in the mesopelagic layers (Braun et al. 2014).


Females are thought to mature at 8–10 years of age, and may live to at least 40 years. DW at maturity is estimated to be 270-300 cm for males and 370-390cm for females. 
The species is aplacental viviparous, with embryos developing within the uterus. The developing embryos initially feed on yolk and are later nourished by specialised uterine milk. The gestation period is between 12 and 13 months, and females usually give birth to only a single pup every 2-3 years.  


Although not targeted in Australia, Manta rays are highly prized internationally for their gill rakers. This rising demand for gill rakers in Asian markets has led to the development of new and specialised fisheries. As a result, Manta rays are targeted in large numbers by unregulated fisheries in parts of the world. The species is also taken as bycatch in artisinal and commercial fisheries, and in shark control nets.


IUCN Red List : Vulnerable

CITES Listed

Manta rays are highly valued in the Traditional Chinese Medicine industry, especially for their gill rakers. The species is also caught for food in artisanal fisheries, and as bycatch in a range of commercial fisheries and shark-control programs.

Similar Species

Differs from Giant Manta Ray, Mobula birostris, in having dark spots on the middle of the underside between the gill slits (vs. spots absent in the Giant Manta), and whitish-coloured shoulder patches arising from the spiracle before curving medially (vs. the very distinct and triangular-shaped shoulder patches of the Giant Manta Ray).


The species is named for Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, who was visiting Sydney at the time this “royal fish” was caught and posed for photographs with it. The Prince survived an assassination attempt at Clontarf, Sydney, in 1868.

Species Citation

Ceratoptera alfredi Krefft, 1868, llustrated Sydney News 11 July 5(50): 3. Type locality: Watsons Bay, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Manta Ray, Mobula alfredi (Krefft 1868)


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Bennett, M.B., Coman, F., Townsend, K., Couturier, L.I.E., Jaine, F. & Richardson, A.J. 2016. A historical and contemporary consideration of the diet of the reef manta ray, Manta alfredi, from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research doi:10.1071/MF16046

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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37041005

Behaviour:IUCN Vulnerable; CITES Listed

Depth:0-452 m

Habitat:Reef associated, pelagic

Max Size:500 cm DW (disc width)

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map