Maybe devilishly cute.
These horns are made by the pectoral fins where a part breaks off during the embryological stage and moves towards the mouth. These flexible horns direct plankton and water into their mouths. When not being used, they curl up to help the ray become more streamlined. (See anatomy picture below)
The Mobula rays are difficult to differentiate in the field. They all tend to look alike as they're all triangular, dark sea pancakes swimming really fast.
It’s kind of like trying to tell the difference between Rosie the inbred Chihuahua and a naked mole rat.
Meanwhile this Mobula (in the eagle ray family, Myliobatidae) usually does not exceed 1.2 m (3.9 ft) in disc width. Described as black from above, with long “wings” (the pectoral fins), they have a light colored belly and short, whip-like tail with no spine. They are covered in a thick mucus coating, like many of the larger rays. To breathe, the devil ray has five pair of gills on its underside. Their eyes are located at the base of their cephalic horns… the better to see you with, my dear.
Although primarily a pelagic plankton feeder, they sometimes feed on small crustaceans such as shrimp and small fish. They lack teeth except a small band on the lower jaw, almost hidden by the skin. When feeding on the smaller organisms, they water and food are filtered out by their gill rakers (highlighted below in blue and red; photo credit unknown), a type of filter feeding known as “ram-jet feeding.”
It’s currently unknown why they do this- I stand by my “show offs” point of view- but this may be a way to dislodge loose dead skin and parasites when crashing back into the ocean. Or maybe they just really like belly flops.
The Atlantic mobula is ovoviviparous (eggs that are hatched within the body), and has one pup per litter. They take a while to mature, and with such small reproducing numbers, these animals can be in big trouble.
“Wait, don’t we know?”
Like many rays, they are listed by the IUCN as Data Deficient (DD) and are a prime example that #raysneedlove2.
But don’t fret yet! They’re protected in Florida waters- yay, Florida! Four [seapancakes] for you, Florida!
(Picture credit unknown)
We see the Mobula hypostoma on there! Hooray!
(The sawfish are on there as well, an animal we talked about on a previous post.)