M. munkiana are unique among the devil rays in their tendency to form enormous aggregations of perhaps several hundred or thousands of individuals. The purpose of these aggregations has long been a matter of speculation, with hypotheses ranging from predator avoidance to facilitated foraging to courtship and reproduction. These large aggregations potentially put the Gulf of California M. munkiana population at risk by increasing the probability of major bycatch events in both large-scale and artisanal fisheries.
Nursery areas have been shown to be important for many elasmobranch species. These discrete areas have biotic and abiotic features important for pupping and enhancing the survival of neonates and juveniles, offering protection and abundant food resources during the early life stages.
Little is known about the ecology and distribution of the juvenile life stage in Mobula rays. As a result, our research focuses on determining where and when Mobula rays are having their pups, identifying critical habitats for neonates and juveniles, and ensuring these habitats are managed with proper protection.
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Stereo Camera Census
In the Field
Description of first nursery area for a pygmy devil ray species (Mobula munkiana) in the Gulf of California, Mexico