Beebes Manta

Unknown species of Fish in the South Pacific Ocean.

Scientific name: Manta sp. nov., assigned by Gunter Sehm in 1996.

Physical description: Diamond-shaped body configuration. Dark-brown back, faintly mottled. Two broad, brilliantly white, distinctly V-shaped bands extend halfway down the back from each side of the head. Wingspan, 10 feet, approximately 1.5 times the body length. Wing tips are white, at least on the underside. Conspicuous horns. Short tail.

Distribution: Galápagos Islands; New Caledonia; Tabuaeran Atoll, Kiribati; off Baja California, Mexico; Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

Significant sightings: Naturalist William Beebe observed a white-banded manta ray off Isla Genovesa in the Galápagos Islands on April 27, 1923. The fish collided with his vessel, Noma, then sped away on the surface.

Beebe's MANTA, a striped ray of the Pacific Ocean. (William M. Rebsamen)

A documentary for German television, called Sharks: Hunters ofthe Seas and broadcast on December 28, 1989, featured a thirty-second clip of a manta with white, symmetrical, V-shaped bands.

A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television program titled Holiday Guide to Australia, broadcast on November 7, 1999, included an aerial view of a swimming manta ray with a pair of white, longitudinal bands on its wings, filmed over the Great Barrier Reef.

Possible explanation: The pigmentation of the uniformly dark Giant manta (Manta birostris) is easily rubbed off, but this only results in blotching. Sometimes, the animal is seen with white shoulder patches but not distinct banding. It has a wingspan up to 26 feet and is found in cir-cumtropical waters.

Sources: William Beebe, Galápagos, World's End (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1924), p. 312; Gunter G. Sehm, "On a Possible Unknown Species of Giant Devil Ray, Manta sp.," Cryptozoology 12 (1996): 19-29; Karl Shuker, "There in Black and White!" Fortean Times, no. 131 (February 2000): 18-19.

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