Manta rays are huge flat cartilaginous fish. They are related to sharks and stingrays but lack the shark's sharp teeth and the stingray's stinger. Because they are so large and have few natural predators, manta rays have not developed a good defense system. Partly because of overfishing and global warming, manta ray populations have been on the decline.
The larger species of shark, such as the great white, find the easygoing manta ray to be an inviting target. As an indirect effect of global warming, the docile manta rays often find themselves hunting in the same waters as their enemies, as they migrate in search of food. Manta rays can swim fast and even leap out of the water, but they are no match for these predators. Sharks have begun to hunt manta rays in lieu of their normal prey, which is becoming increasingly scarce.
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