Scientists believed there was only one species of manta ray until 2009, when Andrea Marshall, then a graduate student at the University of Queensland in Australia, showed that there were actually two distinct species: the coastal-living reef manta ray and the open-ocean oceanic manta ray. Marshall suspected there was even a third irregularly colored manta species. But the rays were hard to glimpse and even harder to capture. The specter of this missing manta has lingered over manta biologists ever since.
Now, a new study offers the most robust genetic evidence yet of the new species, which scientists have dubbed the Caribbean manta ray.