The Lesser Guinean Devil Ray (Mobula rochebrunei) is found… nope, not in Papua New Guinea as many people may have guessed. This ray has actually been observed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, swimming around Mauritania to Angola and possibly even Brazil (there were only two records off Brazil).
In the Mobulidae family, they are an olive-like colour underwater and are similar to M. rochebrunei in that both are a target species and a utilized bycatch of fisheries operating in their range.
They are pretty average-sized for a ray species, reaching a maximum size of 133 cm disc width (DW) and are known to have only one pup. Not good at all! Why? Well, the IUCN has assessed them as Vulnerable (VU) due to the majority of their population being off of Africa, where there is high fishing pressure from both artisanal and foreign fleets. It doesn’t help that they are known to school, which means a lot of them could be captured at the same time! Doesn’t sound like a recipe for sustainable fisheries, huh?
Although no specific data are available on their population trends, it makes sense as to why they are assessed by the IUCN as Vulnerable. We wish them well as they swim elegantly through the ocean, eating up any and all plankton they find.
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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