Sicklefin Devil Ray

By 13/08/2020Fish

The Sicklefin devil ray (Mobula tarapacana) is one of the lesser-known Mobula species.
The Azores Islands are one of the best areas to observe mass congregations (Formigas & Dollaborat Banks offshore Sao Miguel & Santa Maria, Santa Maria Island local spots, Princess Alice Bank offshore Pico Island). They are also known as the Chilean devil ray, Guinean devil ray or spiny mobula. They are named « Devil Ray » because of their striking frontal horns, as people compared these horns to devil’s horns.

CHARACTERISTICS

Latin name: Mobula tarapacana
Order: Myliobatiformes
Family: Mobulidae
Length: up to 3,7 meters of diameter (females bigger than males)
Weight: up to 400 kg
IUCN Status: Vulnerable

DESCRIPTION

  • Color: Greenish-brown, grey, white
  • Head: Narrow with a long neck
  • Horns: Short frontal horns, situated on both side of the mouth
  • Mouth: Ventral position, under snout
  • Wings: Strongly curved with a central ridge
  • Tail: Short, scaly and without spine

HABITAT

Sickelfin Devil Rays are very often encountered in the open ocean, especially on offshore shallow seamounts. They spend most of their time between surface and depths of 40 meters.

DIET

Sickelfin Devil Ray mainly filter-feed on plankton, krill and small fish. While feeding, they can dive to depths of nearly 2000 meters for around 60 to 90 minutes.
When the Devil Rays are not feeding, their cephalic fins are curled and point forward and down, giving the appearance of devil horns. When they are feeding, they are open to create a funnel effect to catch their preys.

 

REPRODUCTION & MIGRATION

Sickelfin Devil Ray are ovoviviparous. The female develops and hatches the clutch of eggs inside herself, before to give birth to live young Sickelfin Devil Rays.
Sickelfin Devil Rays generally arrive in the Azores around June – July when the water start to warm up, and leave the archipelago around October. From November to May, the Sickelfin Devil Ray population is migrating to warmer waters close to the Equator line, passing true Capo Verde Archipelago.

 

 

Marylou

About Marylou

Marylou is a Marine Biologist and Master in Oceanography. She is one of our Marine Wildlife Guide at TERRA AZUL. She studied in Canada and Belgium, but is originally from France, and enjoys being out to sea everyday with whales & dolphins.

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