Difference Between Manta Rays and Sting Rays (With Table)

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Marine life is gorgeous and there is no single way to describe its beauty. People who can truly describe the beauty of the sea are the Marine biologists, ocean zealots who are forever in endless surprises because they are the ones that study what’s deep down under the ocean and the life that exists within.

There are hundreds of different species under the ocean that goes unnoticed by the naked eyes. All of the creatures that live deep beneath the waters have diverse survival conditions based upon their shape, texture, etc. Most sea creatures are found in tropical, temperate, and subtropical regions of the world for their survival purposes.

One such ocean creature is the ‘ Ray fish’  which is highly intelligent but life-threatening to humans or any other living organism. There are different types of ray fishes but here we would be talking over only 2 types namely Manta Rays and Stingrays.

Manta Rays vs Sting Rays

The difference between Manta rays and Stingrays is that Manta rays does not have stinger at the end of its tail while stingrays have sharp stinger on its tail.

Both these Ray fishes are similar morphologically but still have a huge difference in terms of traits and functions. Interestingly, rays are closely related to sharks because they both are made of cartilage and have no bony skeleton. Moreover, just like sharks, they do not use their eyes to prey, instead they use the electro-sensors that help them find their prey easily in the water.

Manta Rays are stunning creatures but they are often confused with the Stingrays due to their similar looks but actually, there’s a huge catalog of differences that separate them from one another.


Comparison Table Between Manta Rays and Sting Rays (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonManta RaysSting Rays
Tail barbManta rays do not acquire stinger or bard at the end of its tailStingrays do acquire barbs on the tail. Some of the stingray’s bard are venomous too
SizeManta rays are the ocean’s largest rays that go aimlessly up to 8.8 meters length with wingspan included.This, on the other hand, are smaller in size. The tiniest is the electric rays with a height of about 2 meters.
Mouth siteManta rays have their mouths on the front side of their bodyThe stingray’s mouth is located underneath the body.
TerritorySaltwaterWarm placid waters, Marine water
DriftManta rays can be seen floating as they stay above the water ground.Stingrays always dwell at the bottom of the water surface.


What is Manta Rays?

Manta rays are the largest fishes that exist on the earth. They are the largest among their own family species having a width up to 8.8 meters along the wingspan. These manta rays are located usually in tropical and subtropical regions where it can be watched offshore the ocean or near the coastlines.

A giant manta ray could weigh approximately 5000 pounds(2000 kg) or near. With such a vast weight they can swim a depth of  1000 meters underwater, but they keep it low to about 10 meters rang so that they get food easily.

Due to their horn-like cephalic flaps in the mouth, they are also recognized as Devil rays. Although they have an enormous body they are harmless in many senses.

Basically, there are 2 different types of manta ray species i.e. birostris and M.alfredi, they are classified in the Myliobatidae tribe of sea rays. Both these species have almost the same morphology as they are cartilaginous which means they are made up of cartilage and no bone just like human ears and nose, kite-like pectoral fins, and horn-shaped fins.

The factor that distinguishes these two is their size. Birostis has a width up to 7m which is longer than M.alredi which reaches up to  5.5m in width.


What is Sting Rays?

Stingrays are the smallest rays on the planet having a width of 2 meters and 35cm in length.  These types of rays are usually located in shallow marine waters and some tropical placid waters. They cannot be seen offshore as they dwell deep within the water core. 

The stingrays weigh 750 pounds and they have a lifespan of about 15-25 years. The camouflage coloration of stingrays that reflect floor color so they can be saved from their predators and also to fetch its prey.

Stingrays are highly intelligent sea creatures as they search their food not simply by their eyes, they have special sensors called Ampullae of Lorenzini. This particular sensor helps them detect their prey by sending electrical signals under the water.

Surprisingly, stingrays are the oldest sea rays that existed since the time of Jurassic Park which is about 150 million years back.  But unfortunately, these stingrays are facing extinction  due to many climatic conditions, water deterioration reasons.

Main Differences Between Manta Rays and Sting Rays

  • Stinger: Manta rays do not have bard or stinger on its tail whereas stingrays have 2 or more barbs on its tail. These stingers are only for self-defense purposes which they use only when they sense any predator.
  • Mouth: The mouth of the manta ray is located in front of their bodies. On the order hand, stingrays have their mouth located underside of their body. This is the biggest difference based on which you can tell the type of rays.
  • Water dwelling: Devilfish are pelagic and prefer to stay above water levels whereas stingrays prefer to dwell at the bottom of the water surface. Though, manta rays are massive they have the tendency to swim near the coastlines but stingrays being tiny and thin choose to live under the water surface.
  • Toxin: Manta  rays could be seen human-friendly as they are harmless and can be touched without getting hurt. But, stingrays are the deadliest, they have venom-filled body sacs which they use in self-defense.
  • Nutriment: Manta rays are filter feeders and they feed on zooplankton like small fishes etc. Whereas, stingray are bottom feeders and feed large sea species like shrimps, crabs, etc.



Manta rays and stingrays are both cartilaginous fishes that are nearly similar to sharks. As of now, both these species are vulnerable and hundreds of them are now endangered due to the current state of water pollution and unregulated hunting. Presence of tail barb and size of each rays are the primary differences to be remembered while discerning manta rays and stingrays.