Mobulas of Azores, Photo-ID research
I was recently contacted by a master’s student in Faial that is implementing a Photo-ID system of the Mobulas found in the Azores. These rays can be found in good numbers off a submerged seamount known as Princess Alice Banks. It’s a tough location to reach and is often only visited with calm seas as it’s around 100km southwest of Pico island and around 80km from Faial. There are many types of Mobulas and this species is known as Mobula tarapacana, it also referred to as Sicklefin Devil Ray, Spiny Mobula, Chilean Devil Ray and Box Ray. I have seen other types of Mobulas before but these guys were really impressive in terms of their size. Much larger than other Mobulas and right up their in size with reef Mantas. They can get up to 12 feet (3.7 meters).
Similar Photo-ID research efforts have been created for Mantas in places like Maldives and Hawaii. Little is known about Mobulas in general so it’s great to see some new research efforts being created, especially for such a unique population found in the Azores.
The unique patterns on the underside (ventral area) of the Mobula is used to ID individuals. If you have any images from the Azores, I’m sure the researcher would love to get them. Date and location are needed as well as they are trying to study the residence of the individuals. With this work they are trying to implement a long term program that will aid in the conservation of these special animals.
Ana Sobral, from ‘Universidade dos Açores’ in Faial can be contacted at the following address. firstname.lastname@example.org