Mantas or Mobulas? What is that?

By 21/12/2019Uncategorized

All divers know that in the Azores, there is a season to meet “Mantas” Rays.

They arrived when the water warm up, from July to October.

But are they Mantas or Mobulas ? 

Sometimes we use the vernacular name of “mantas” for all species that looks like a “manta”.  In reality there are 2 different species of Mantas and 9 species of Mobulas known until today.


What are the main differences between a Manta & a Mobula ?


  1. While the mantas mouth is at the front of its body, a mobula’s mouth  is located on the ventral part.
  2. Mantas do not have a spine, and mobulas do have.
  3. Mantas have long cephalic fins and mobulas have short ones.
  4. Adult mantas are also larger than adult mobulas.


Despite these differences, recent DNA analysis has revealed that these two are more closely related than initially thought and also that three species of mobula are, in fact, virtually identical to three others. If you want to read more about it, the full scientific report is available from the Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society .


In the Azores, the majority is Mobulas and a few Mantas. It is possible to meet them on an offshore dive. Close to São Miguel, there is the famous dive spot Formigas and Dollaborat.




About Marylou

Marylou is a Marine Biologist and Master in Oceanography. She is one of our Marine Wildlife Guide and is responsible for Science Education at TERRA AZUL. Originally from France, she studied in Canada and Belgium and loves being out to sea to share her knowledge with you.

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