closely related to sharks but with long, flat bodies and wing-like pectoral fins, mobula rays are ideally suited to swooping through the water - here off the gulf of california - yet seem equally at home in the air, so much so that they have earned the name “flying rays”. mobula rays can reach heights of more than two metres, remaining airborne for several seconds.
mobula rays are quite elusive and difficult to study, so biologists are not quite sure why they jump out of the water. theories vary from a means of communication, to a mating ritual (though both males and females jump), or as a way to shed themselves of parasites. they could also be jumping as a way of better corralling their pray, as seen with them swimming in a circular formation.
what is known about mobula rays is that they reach sexual maturity late and their investment in their offspring is more akin to mammals than other fishes, usually producing just a single pup after long pregnancies, all of which makes them extremely vulnerable to commercial fishing, especially as a species that likes to come together in large groups.
A close relative to sharks, but with long, flat bodies and wing-like pectoral fins, Mobula rays are adept at sweeping through the ocean. However, it is not uncommon to also spot these guys mid-air; so much so, that they are commonly called “flying rays”.
Mobulas can reach above-water heights of more than 2 metres and can remain airborne for several seconds. In spite of being commonly seen off the coast of California, these rays are quite elusive and thus biologists have no concrete conclusion as to why they seem to enjoy leaving their watery home, however brief, so frequently.
Of course, there are some theories, the main ones hypothesising that the rays use this flight-like endeavour as a means of communication, a mating ritual or as a way to shed themselves of parasites.
Mobula rays engage in some pretty incredible aerial acrobatics. This species of ray, second only to manta rays in size, can jump up to 2 meters into the air. Large groups of mobula rays will engage in this behavior, including both males and females, but it remains unclear to scientists exactly what purpose the jumping serves. It may be a form of communication, which might explain the rays’ apparent preference for belly flopping. By striking the water surface with as much of their body as possible simultaneously, the rays generate both a large splash and a concussive clap that carries through the water. (Video credit: BBC; via J. Hertzberg)
As many of you know, I along with some of our LAMAVE team and a couple of international scientists are heading to Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site, to assess the shark & ray biodiversity of the Park.
One of our main goals is to understand the movement and residency patterns of some of the shark species that visit the park. We will be working closely with the Park’s management office (Tubbataha Management Office) with the aim of doing the following:
- Satellite tagging whale sharks & tiger sharks
- Deploying Remote Underwater Videocameras (RUVs)
- Conducting Aerial Surveys using Quadcopters
- Genetic studies
We’ve had a researcher based at the Tubbataha Ranger’s station since early March, already collecting RUV footage from around the atolls. He has confirmed the presence of: Tiger sharks, Scalloped hammerheads, White, blacktip reef sharks, Grey reef sharks, Mobula sp. rays, Whale sharks, Leopard & bamboo sharks
We have one space available for an adventurer with a passion for our oceans. We’ll be embarking on a research liveaboard vessel from the Philippines on the 14th of May, and will be at sea for 10 nights. The prices of the expedition is $3,000 (USD). All proceeds go to the full realisation of the expedition.
If this sounds like you, or you know somebody that might be interested in this unique opportunity, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
50 Shades of Ray: A large school of mobula rays fades into the waters of Baja, Mexico. “The rays were moving quite fast and it was hard enough keeping up with them from the surface, let alone diving down to take a closer look,” writes photographer Eduardo Lopez Negrete. Mobula rays are often referred to as flying rays due to their fondness for breaching.