Mobulidae (devil rays)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Batoidei >  Myliobatoidei

These large, heavy-bodied, strong-swimming rays have unique paired flat head fins, a large, angular pectoral disk, tiny teeth, a single dorsal fin on the tail base, a slender whiplike tail, and a small sting sometimes present just behind the dorsal fin. The head fins are highly mobile and are normally carried curled when the ray is swimming, but unfold to direct small fish and crustaceans into the wide, slotlike mouth. These rays are filter-feeders and have rows of fringed plates screening the internal gill slits to prevent small prey from escaping through the gill cavities. 10 species, 4 in the area.

Species found in southern Africa

Manta birostris (Manta)

A giant ray with paired long head fins on an extremely broad head, mouth at front of head, and upper surface of disk covered with denticles. Colour blackish above, sometimes with white shoulder patches, white below with grey edging on disk.

Mobula eregoodootenkee (Longhorn devilray)

 

Mobula japanica (Spinetail devilray)

 

Mobula kuhlii (Shorthorn devilray)

A small, short-headed devilray with short head fins, subterminal mouth, a white-tipped dorsal fin, slightly curved tips on the pectoral disk, and no denticles on the upper surface. Tail shorter than disk, without a sting. Colour dark brown above, white below.

Mobula taracapana (Sicklefin devilray)

A large, long-headed devilray with short head fins, subterminal mouth, a plain dorsal fin, pectoral disk with strongly curved, swept-back tips, on the pectoral fins, and upper disk densely covered with small, pointed denticles. Tail shorter than disk and without a sting. Colour dark blue above, white below except for broad blue-grey areas along front and rear margins of disk; blue fades to grey after death.

Mobula thurstoni (Bentfin devilray)

A moderate-sized short-headed devilray with short head fins, subterminal mouth, a white-tipped dorsal fin, pectoral disk with swept-back tips having a prominent double bend to their front margins and upper disk sparsely covered with small, blunt denticles. Tail shorter than disk and without a sting. Colour dark blue to black above, underside white medially, silvery on pectoral fin tips.

 

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale


  Iziko Museums of Cape Town, 2008

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