Flying Mobula Rays
If you have been out on a boat in the Gulf de Papagayo of Costa Rica, you may have witnessed a strange creature leaping from the water and coming down with a loud splash. It could be a dolphin but chances are that what you have witnessed is in fact a devil ray.
The devil ray as it is commonly called is actually part of the mobula family of rays. There are several species in this family most of which are known to breach. There breaching is a source of much debate in the marine biologist community. There are several different opinions or theories on what makes the mobulas jump, however, there remains no steadfast evidence that definitively settles the debate.
Theories regarding this odd behavior vary widely. One of the wider spread theories is that these devil rays perform this jumping ritual to remove parasites from their skin. Other theories suggest that it could be a form of mating ritual or simply showing off. There is also the opinion that these rays could possibly be breaching by complete accident. Devil rays are incredibly fast, as they have no other form of defense other than their speed and agility. They can manipulate their bodies in the water with ease to both escape predators and catch a meal. If they are travelling at a rapid speed near the surface and don’t realise they are going to breach, the slight movements they make underwater could explain their acrobatic flips that are made when they jump from the water.
Devil rays in Costa Rica have been witnessed to make up to 3 flips in one single jump that can reach up to 2 metres above the water. Mobulas, or devil rays, can travel in huge schools that can number in the thousands. If you are diving in Costa Rica there is a chance that you could possibly witness one of these schools that are truly magnificent and beautiful. Rays as far as the eye can see, flapping their wings in unison with each other, unchanged by your presence. The Bat Islands in Costa Rica is a fantastic place to see this occur. The Bat Islands are one of the protected marine zones in Costa Rica where fishing is not permitted at all. As a result the schools and the size of the marine life in this area is much greater than other parts of the country.
Mobulas have been witnessed doing this same behavior in several parts of the world. There is an interesting article that describes the behavior and the fishing of this species that now takes place in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. Due to overfishing of other species, this animal is now being fished for its meat by local fisherman in the area. Due to this and marine groups concern over the sustainability of such practises there have recently been several studies launched on this species that will hopefully gather more information on this wonderful species.
In short, there is no one answer to the question of why devil rays breach. It is a question that remains the source of much debate. As more and more studies are being done on the species in the Sea of Cortez, there will hopefully be more information gathered that can bring an end to this curious question.
Jonathan Rowe is a Canadian divemaster who works with Rocket Frog Divers in Costa Rica. After witnessing the mobulas performing their acrobatics on numerous occasions and then seeing a massive school of mobulas on my first ever visit to the Bat Islands in Costa Rica, I was hooked. I needed to find out more information. While that search has ultimately lead to more questions than answers, the species remains a huge interest.
Rocket Frog Divers is a dive shop that specializes in diving trips to the Bat Islands and the Catalina Islands of Costa Rica.
Mobula is a genus of ray in the family Myliobatidae (eagle rays). Their appearance is similar to that of manta rays, which are in the same family. Species of this genera are often collectively referred to as "flying mobula" or simply "flying rays", due to their propensity for breaching, sometimes in a spectacular manner. The devil fish can attain a disc width of up to 5.2 m (17 ft) and can probably weigh over a ton, second only to the Manta species in size. Despite their size, little is known about this genus, much of it being from anecdotal accounts.
Mobula rays in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortés) have been reported to breach as high as 2 m above the sea.
Source: http://www.costarica-scuba.com/why-do-devil-rays-jump/#jumping#mobularays#mobularaysjumping#water#waterjump#jump#gif#amazinggifs#awesomegifs#lol#waterjump #animals#nature#photography#animallovers#animalphotography#animalphotos#naturephotography#naturephotos#naturepics#naturepictures#naturepicsoftheday#natureimages #animallovers#cute#cuteanimals#cuteness#cutenessoverload#animaloftheday#gifoftheday#gifofthedayindeed#gifoftheweek