The Fins United Initiative is excited to bring back the loved "Underrated Elasmobranch Spotlight" series through TFUI officer Jess Myers. Learn about the Chondrichthyans not shown on the big screen through her beautiful artwork... and check out the new name.
I know what you’re thinking… “manta rays aren’t uncommon!” But hear me out - splashing into the Uncommon Chondrichthyan line up this Friday is the Munk’s Devil Ray (Mobula munkiana). This species may look like a manta, but they have their own unique style!
They’re like a manta’s shy cousin. Growing to a length of 1 meter (~3 feet) normally, though the longest recorded was 2.2 meters (~7 feet). What they lack in size, they make up for in personality. While it’s a rare sight, these rays will fly through the air, doing flips, flops, and twists, sometimes as a group! Scientists are still trying to determine the reasoning for this behavior. Some theories are communication, parasite removal, or showing off for potential mates.
Devil rays are named for their cephalic fins that look like a pair of horns growing out of the mouth. These “horns” will unfold when the ray is feeding, looking more like those of a manta ray. The mobility of these cephalic fins makes devil rays the only vertebrate that has three, count ‘em, three pairs of working limbs: pectoral fins, pelvic fins, and cephalic fins.
Like manta rays (Mobula sp.), these fish are hunted for their gills. They typically give birth to one pup every 2 years, making it difficult to keep their population afloat. According to the IUCN Red List’s most recent survey (2018), they’re listed as Vulnerable.
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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