By Tim Devaney - 02/22/16 04:57 PM EST
Sea-dwelling manta rays may be endangered, the federal government suspects.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced Monday in the Federal Register it is considering listing the giant manta ray and reef manta ray as threatened or endangered species, pending the result of its status review.
If they are listed as endangered, the NMFS may also designate a critical habitat for these manta rays, the agency noted.
The status review stems from a petition by the Defenders of Wildlife. The NMFS will look for evidence that the habitat of these manta rays faces destruction, or if the rays are suffering from disease or predation.
The giant manta rays can grow to a wingspan of up to 23 feet and live for 40 years, the agency noted.
The public has 60 days to comment.