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Giant Manta Ray Skye

Meet Skye, one of the many giant manta rays living off the east coast of Florida.

Florida is home to a large seasonal aggregation of adult manta rays and also serves as an important manta ray nursery. The Florida Manta Project, a research group within the Marine Megafauna Foundation, has been studying manta rays off the east coast of Florida since 2016.

Jessica Pate, Lead Scientist for the Florida Manta Project describes the local population, “We were incredibly surprised to learn that this population is composed exclusively of juvenile manta rays. We were also disheartened to see so many mantas entangled in fishing line and with injuries from boat propellers. Continued research, mitigation of threats and increased public education is crucial for the conservation of Florida’s manta rays.”

Digital Life and ANGARI Foundation teamed up with The Florida Manta Project to help educate and bring awareness to Florida manta rays. The goal: create an accurate, 3D model of an animated manta ray.

Skye, a 2.5 meter (8 feet), juvenile male manta ray was chosen for modeling. This friendly manta ray was happy to be photographed, filmed and measured during the team’s field expedition. Using collected footage and measurement data, the Digital Life animator recreated the manta ray’s shape, gills, mouth and other attributes, including adding Skye’s identifying details and texture. Even the ray’s scars from a boat prop are noticeable. Finally, the model was rigged for final animation, which accurately depicts Skye’s swimming motion and the lifelike movement of his cephalic fins during feeding.

Skye is the only accurate 3D model of a manta ray and an invaluable digital specimen to represent Florida’s manta ray population as well as manta rays globally.

The Making of Skye

Interactive 3D Model

Supplemental Educational Content:

Interested in learning more about giant manta rays? We’ve curated resources that will allow students, and lifelong learners alike, to investigate in more detail!

[WEBINAR]  ANGARI Foundation & UF TESI – Ocean Expert Exchange: The Florida Manta Project
[REFERENCE]  NOAA Fisheries – Species Directory: Giant Manta Ray
[RESOURCE LIBRARY]  Marine Megafauna Foundation – The Florida Manta Project
[READING] – Manta rays establish shadowy presence in S. FL, as global population threatened
[VIDEO SHORT]  WILD FL – Massive manta rays discovered in South Florida!
[VIDEO SHORT]  Marine Megafauna Foundation – Urban Manta Nursery Discovered in Florida!
[360 VIDEO*]  BBC Earth – Dive with Giant Manta Rays in Mexico in 3D 360 | Our Blue Planet VR
[LESSONS]  Marine Megafauna Foundation – Manta Rays & Ocean Plastics Lesson Plans for Grades 3-5

* For best 360 video experience, we recommend viewing at the highest quality your device and internet connection will allow. To do this, open video in YouTube > select Settings ⚙️ icon > select Quality > adjust accordingly.

Educators- would you like to be kept up to date on ANGARI ocean science education content & programs like this? If so, please complete our Educator Registration form!


Jessica Pate, Lead Scientist
Marine Megafauna Foundation

Duncan Irschick, Co-founder & Director
Digital Life 3D

Vicky Fong, Research Scientist
Marine Megafauna Foundation

Bryant Turffs, Research Scientist & Underwater Photographer
Marine Megafauna Foundation

Chelsey Petersen, Research Scientist
Marine Megafauna Foundation

Ken Morton, Field Support & Fiscal Sponsor

Jonathan Bayuk, Fiscal Sponsor

Johnson Martin, CG Artist

Shelley Acuff, Captain & Crew
ANGARI Foundation

Erik Phillips, Crew
ANGARI Foundation 

Marine Megafauna FoundationDigital Life 3D logo

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