Wendy and Keller Laros understand kids!  They have 3 of their own and have spent years combining their passion for mantas with their children’s lives - and this means teaching kids about manta rays! 



What are manta rays?

Manta rays are large, graceful animals that live in the ocean.  They have triangular shaped side or pectoral fins that they use to propel themselves through the water.  

Are manta rays fish or something else?     

Even though manta rays don’t look like a typical fish, they actually are fish.  They belong to a group of fish that have cartilage instead of bone.  Wiggle your nose and you will feel cartilage.

Are manta rays related to sharks? 

Yes!  Manta rays are cousins to sharks.  They both have cartilaginous skeletons. 

Where do manta rays live?

Manta rays live in warm and temperate waters worldwide.  Manta rays are regularly sighted in the waters surrounding the islands of Hawaii, and an island called Yap in Micronesia, and off the coast of Mozambique, a country in Africa.

What do manta rays eat?

Manta rays eat plankton.  “Planktos” means drifter in Latin.  Copepods are a very small shrimp-like animals that are plankton and a favorite food of manta rays.

How do manta rays eat?

Manta rays have specialized fins on their heads called cephalic fins.  “Cephala” means head in Latin.

Do manta rays have teeth?

No and yes! Manta rays don’t have sharp teeth like a shark.  Instead, manta rays have a stripe of very small low teeth on their bottom jaws that looks like sandpaper.

Do manta rays have tail stingers?

No.  Manta rays do not have a tail barb or stinger.

What is the Hawaiian word for manta ray?

The Hawaiian word for manta rays is Hahalua.

What is the scientific name for manta ray?

The scientific name for manta rays is Manta birostris for the manta rays that live in the open ocean and Manta alfredi for the manta rays that live near shore.

How big do manta rays get?

The open ocean manta rays can get up to 22’ across.  The near shore manta rays can get up to 14’ across.

Who is Lefty the manta ray?

Lefty the manta rays lives in the ocean along the Kona coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.  Lefty is one of the first manta rays we ever met.  She was first photographed in 1979.  She is easy to identify because of her broken left cephalic fin.  She is about 11 feet across.  She is still sighted regularly on the famous Kona Manta Ray Night Dive.






  1. Black card stock

  2. White card stock

  3. Chop stick

  4. Black marker

  5. Scissors

  6. Glue

  7. Googly Eyes


  1. Cut-out a manta shape in the piece of white card stock (see above).

  2. Use first cut-out as a guide to cut a second manta shape in a piece of black card stock.


  1. Have students look up one of the identified manta rays like Lefty for ideas for a spot pattern for the belly (see below).  More manta IDs on

  2. Student uses black marker to make spot pattern on white manta cut-out.

  3. Place marked side down.


  1. Tape the chopstick the unmarked side of the white manta cut-out so that most of it sticks out the bottom of the manta.

  2. This is the manta’s tail.


  1. Squirt glue around the inside edge of unmarked side of the white manta cut-out. 

  2. Place black manta cut-out on top of white manta cut-out and press together. 


  1. Glue googly eyes on top of black side where the cephalic fins meet the rest of the body of the manta.

  2. Let dry and then you have your manta puppet!