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  • You're in the warm waters around Santa Maria Island in the Atlantic Ocean.

  • And flying towards you are a group of mysterious winged sea creatures known as mobula rays.

  • They're also called devil rays because of the horns on their head.

  • Biologists don't know a lot about mobulas, but they do know that their brains are the largest of any fish species, which may explain why these rays exhibit increased social and cognitive abilities, akin to small mammals.

  • Every year, mobulas make seasonal migrations to warm waters in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mediterranean.

  • Because of their elusive nature, these rays are notoriously difficult to observe in the wild.

  • So biologists take advantage of this annual gathering to study them.

  • But these gatherings also attract danger.

  • Mobulas are heavily poached for their gill plates, which are used in Chinese medicine.

  • And since this species has a low reproductive rate, there is limited ability to recover from population declines.

  • Activists are working to protect the rays and as of 2016, all nine species of mobula ray are listed under CITES Appendix II.

  • Meaning trade and fishing are strictly regulated.

  • The hope is that this protection will help raise awareness about these beautiful creatures, and prevent mobula rays from disappearing altogether.

You're in the warm waters around Santa Maria Island in the Atlantic Ocean.

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B1 US devil atlantic warm raise awareness poached appendix

Diving Underwater With Elusive Devil Rays

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    Seraya posted on 2020/02/14
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