Whenever you think of manta rays, also known as the manta, you do not usually think of filter feeders but they are.
They have a filtration system that resists clogs. The system helps them capture tiny bits of plankton. They have fibers made of cartilage that help them swallow plankton. The plankton that mantas eat are similar in size to grains of rice.
The cartilaginous lobes that create the filter are parallel. These lobes have tiny gaps between them. When water enters the manta’s mouth, it flows between the lobes before exiting the mouth. Bits of plankton from the water make it back to the manta’s esophagus and are swallowed.
Mantas have a simple filtration system. The parallel lobes direct water into swirling whirlpools. After that, the water gets flushed out of the mouth. Since there is no clogging, they can eat continuously.
Mantas are cool creatures and are unusual filter feeders.
[Source: Science News]