It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a…Mobula Ray?

Flying Mobula Ray

When it comes to the world of the great blue sea, people generally don’t tend to think of things flying through the air.  Sure, sometimes someone will bring up flying fish.  Penguins also may come to mind, but they are just birds who can’t fly.  Out there though there are much, much weirder members of the aquatic life community. One of those weird creatures is the Mobula Ray.  Sometimes mistaken for a manta ray, the mobula ray, a relative of the manta, is found in tropical waters all over the world, but is most famously known existing in the Sea of Cortez off the coast of Mexico. More commonly the mobula ray is called a devil ray or an eagle ray.

No one is quite sure why the mobulas do this. There are many, many explanations from scientists, including mobula experts, all over the world. Even experts say that their own theories are just as reasonable as the next guys and there are no explanations with any more proof than others. Everything from removing parasites clinging to their bodies, to exercise, to a mating process, to hunting, to simply play have been discussed as reasons for the creatures breaching the surface in the way that they do.

In general, very little is known about the mobula rays. There are a number of different species within the Mobula genus. They can span about 12 feet from wing tip to wing tip and weigh over a ton when fully grown. Their schools can be made up of hundreds of individual rays that cover ocean floors with their expanse of black bodies. They are affected by large industrial fishing, getting caught in the nets of fishing companies and others which have depleted their numbers. They are also caught by fishermen of the coast of Mexico who then can prepare and sell their meat for profit.

The numbers of the mobula rays, who lack any defense except their size and speed, has been dwindling in recent years and leads many to worry about their survival in the Sea of Cortez and elsewhere.

Works Cited:

  • Wikipedia Article: Wiki
  • Picture: Picture Source
  • “Mobula Ray Pictures Reveal Spectacular Leaps”: Article
  • “The Flying Mobulas of the Sea Of Cortez”: Article


Adrienne Varela posted on December 12, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Oh wow this is really interesting. I never even heard of devil rays having the ability to leap out of the air. I wonder why that is though.

Lorena Barba posted on December 12, 2011 at 11:07 pm

I hadn’t seen that video. Nice!
It shows that they leap briefly out of the water, rather than glide gracefully like the flying fish do. Still, quite impressive!
It’s sad that their numbers are dwindling.