Giant Devil Ray ( Mobula mobular )

/ / Fish

Description

The Giant Devil ray is the largest species in the Mobula genus, reaching lengths of up to 650 cm and weights of 1300kg (1). It has large, pointed pectoral fins which beat in a wing like motion to create forwards propulsion (2). The set of cephalic fins on its head are used in feeding and their horn like appearance is what gives the Devil ray its common name (2). Below these fins is the mouth containing reduced teeth, and at the base of the tail there is a serrated spine (3). The giant devil ray is dark on its upper side and white on its underside (1).

The giant devil ray has been subject to large unsustainable population declines as a result of bycatch from longlines, driftnets purse seines and trawls (1).

Behaviour

There is little know about the behaviour of the giant devil ray, but they have been recorded swimming close to the surface and travelling in groups (2).

Life cycle

Giant devil rays have a lifespan of up to 50 years and reach sexual maturity between 15 and 19 years. They are ovoviviparous and have a gestation period of 25 months which results in a single large pup approximately 180cm in length (3). Birth occurs during summer and mating resumes after an interval of 1 to 3 years (1).

Habitat

Pelagic offshore, deepwater down to several thousand meters

Distribution

Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean

Migration

Giant devil rays appear to make long migrations following strong ocean currents (3).

Food

Planktonic crustaceans including Meganyctiphanes norveggica and small schooling fish are filtered through special plates (1).

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Status: Endangered (Assessed 2006) (1).

UNCLOS

UNFSA

Bern Convention Appendix II (4)

Barcelona Convention Annex II

References

Description written by Jo Pollett (2009)

(1)   Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Serena, F. & Mancusi, C. 2006. Mobula mobular. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1

(2)   Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas, 2007. Giant Devil Ray (Mobula mobular). [Online] Available at: http://www.ibss.iuf.net/Atlas/medfishes/taxonomy/mobula_mobular.html [Accessed 19 August 2009].

(3)    Serena, F. 2005. Field identification guide to the sharks and rays of the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

(4)   Europe, C.o., 2002. Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats: Bern Convention. [Online] Available at: http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/FR/Treaties/Html/104-2.htm [Accessed 19 August 2009].