Manta rays (manta birostris) are the largest species of ray in the world, reaching an average of about 13+ feet wide, although the largest known specimen measured over 25 feet. They have also been called “devil ray” after the two horn-like appendages protruding from either side of the mouth; these are actually cephalic lobes, which are flexible enough to be unfurled to act as a kind of scoop, helping to push plankton-rich water into their open mouths. During feeding, manta rays appear to somersault in the water.
They also have the largest brain-to-body ratio of all the elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates).
The original text with the photograph, printed in 1933, is as follows:
A Giant Manta Devil Fish became entangled in the anchor rope of Captain A. L. Kahn’s fishing boat while he was angling just off the shore of New Jersey, almost capsizing the heavy boat.
A Coast Guard vessel came to the rescue, and killed the 5,000-pound monster Manta Birostris with 22 shots from a high-powered rifle. The sail-like fish has been mounted and placed on exhibition by Captain Kahn.
An 18-inch baby Manta was born shortly after the mother fish was dragged ashore. These huge rays are seldom seen, since they live in the deepest parts of the sea.