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Manta ray: Preparation

I've seen small rays in the zoo, but never seen a real manta ray apart from documentaries on tv. So, to make a convincing manta I searched the Internet for pictures.

At AltaVista for instance, you can search for pictures quite easily. They even have an image finder. Type in "manta ray" or "manta" or "ray" or something like that and see if you get any results.

Through AltaVista I came to Corbis, a great picture archive. There I found some great pictures of the manta ray. Below are two of those.

The long dark things on the belly of the manta in the picture on the right are some sort of fish attached to the manta.

Making a manta raises one problem: it swims free in the water and has no legs or other limbs to stand on, so how to model it on a stand?
To overcome this problem I decided to use it's tail as a connection to the base. This way the model can stand and can still give you the feeling the manta is free of it's base and surroundings.