Phenomena

Leaping Mobulas

Several mobula rays leaping out of the water

Mobula rays are second only to manta rays in size, and, unlike their larger cousins, relatively little is known about them. Like other rays, they propel themselves by flapping their large pectoral fins, and they generate thrust through hydrodynamic lift. They’re quite efficient swimmers, able to generate enough thrust to leap over 2 meters out of the water before flopping back into it. Why the mobula rays jump and why they seem to prefer belly-flopping is unclear. They may be using the slap and splash to communicate with one another. When aggregations of mobulas are observed from overhead, jumping seems to occur along the outside of the group. Maybe this is an effort to attract more mobulas to a group or a method of scaring prey into the midst of the hunting mobulas. In any case, it is spectacular to behold firsthand. (Image credit: BBC; source)

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