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Georgia Aquarium Welcomes Third Manta Ray

Research on manta populations will provide groundbreaking information on the species

Atlanta (July 19, 2010) –

The Georgia Aquarium announced today the addition of a third manta ray into the Ocean Voyager Gallery, built by The Home Depot. The new ray will join the Aquarium’s existing mantas, Nandi and Tallulah, four whale sharks and dozens of other sharks, rays and fish into the exhibit, which at 6.3 million gallons is the largest single aquarium habitat in the world.

The newest female manta, which measures more than 8 feet across and weighs approximately 230 pounds, was collected off of the coast of Florida.

The Georgia Aquarium staff has been conducting manta ray population estimates off the coast of Marineland, Florida, as well as analyzing physiological parameters of healthy animals living in Atlanta. The research performed includes taking photos of the animals, counting them and noting their migration direction. This information will provide greater understanding about the animals’ natural history, diet, reproductive behaviors and migration patterns.  By sharing the findings of this research, Georgia Aquarium hopes to encourage people to preserve and protect manta rays and their natural habitat. By combining field research with the study of on-site animals in a controlled environment, the Aquarium is contributing to the advancement of human knowledge and public awareness in the area of animal science.

“We provide the opportunity for guests to create a personal relationship with individual ambassadors of highlighted species, which promotes support for conservation-based activities by the millions of people who visit the Georgia Aquarium each year,” said Dr. Tim Mullican, vice president of husbandry at the Georgia Aquarium. “As a leading facility for aquatic animal conservation and research both in the field and in-house, the Aquarium has the valuable opportunity to make a difference for species in their natural habitat.”

Furthermore, one lucky person will have the unique opportunity to name the newest resident of the Georgia Aquarium. The grand prize winner will receive four Annual Passes and four passes to swim in the Journey with Gentle Giants program. No purchase necessary. Contest ends Aug. 31, 2010. Submit name entries at georgiaaquarium.org.

For more information, contact Public Relations:
Scott Higley
VP, Marketing and Communications
404.581.4106
shigley@georgiaaquarium.org

Francesca Allegra
Specialist
404.581.4391
fallegra@georgiaaquarium.org

About manta rays
The manta ray is the largest of all rays, weighing up to 6,000 lbs and measuring up to 26 feet in width. It has a unique body shape, with an extremely broad head and an enormous, wide mouth flanked by two broad, flexible lobes. These fins are kept rolled and pointed forward, except when the manta is feeding. Its tail is whip-like, but short, and does not have a barb or spine. The manta ray is primarily a plankton feeder, but also consumes small and moderate-sized fishes. It is listed as “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

About the Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is the world’s largest with more than eight million gallons of water and more aquatic life than any other aquarium. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and exciting guest experiences and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.

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