The Flying Mobula Rays

The Flying Mobula Rays

Mobula rays make a habit of leaping out of the ocean in amazing acrobatic form, particularly when they gather in groups. This behaviour is still poorly understood by scientists, however possible reasons include communication, courtship, feeding, and even a behaviour to remove parasites. These long, flat, and streamlined rays with their wing- like fins, leap dramatically to heights of more than 2 metres (about 6.6 feet) above the ocean.

A record-breaking school of mobular rays seen off the coast of Baja California.

Mobula rays belong to the family Myliobatidae (the eagle rays), and are sometimes collectively known as “flying mobula” or  “flying rays”. These rays come in a range of sizes, with the largest of the Mobula species reaching a disc width of up to 5.2 metres (about 17 feet); the Devil fish (Mobula mobula).

Hoping to attract a mate, Mobula rays leap out of the water in order to make a big impact. You won’t believe the behaviour these rays are displaying…

Mobula rays can be found in temperate and tropical waters worldwide and while some species are restricted to certain parts of the world ocean, other species have a circumglobal distribution.

Estimated Mobulid Distributions
Estimated mobulid distributions, Image: Manta Ray Of Hope

Don’t worry about your safety around these leaping rays though, they are filter feeders feeding on planktonic crustaceans and small schooling fish that get trapped in their modified ‘curly’ gill covers (branchial plates).

The Devil Fish
This devil fish or giant devil ray is the largest species in the Mobula genus of rays, reaching a disc width of up to 5.2 metres.

Another interesting fact about all mobulid rays is that they are aplacental and viviparous. This means that they give birth to fully developed live young, typically a single pup during each pregnancy.