The spinetail mobula ray, scientifically known as Mobula japanica, is in the Mobulidae family. #Finfact: it is also known as the spinetail mobula ray or japanese mobula ray! They are pretty large, getting up to a width of 3.1 m (average width 2.3 m).
Like all other rays, they are flat like a pancake (hence why they are sometimes called 'majestic sea flap flaps' or 'sea pancakes') and have cephalic lobes which turns out are extensions of the pectoral fins! These can be rolled up in a spiral while the rays are swimming or can be flared out to help funnel water into their mouths... aka their food! Yes, they eat small animals like zoo- and phyto-plankton. Similar to whale sharks and a few other filter-feeders in the elasmobranch family.
Mobulas are famous for their blue-black coloration, and this one is no different except it has a large black band that stretches from eye to eye. The underside of this animal is a creamy white colour. It also has a white-tipped dorsal fin, and they sport a spine between the base of their dorsal fin and their tail.
Like other mobulas, they have many risks facing them such as pressure from fisheries. This is why the IUCN has assessed these animals as Near Threatened (NT).
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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