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Hidden Cabo: Batrays

Los Cabos
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Hidden Cabo: Batrays

The Batrays are putting on a show in front of matapules casa this morning. These critters are 2 to 3 ft. across and are quite common and totally harmless. This morning there is a school of about 200 of them flying straight up out of the water to a height of 6 or 7 ft. The surface water is all churned up. There are a number of theories why they do this from escaping predators to knocking parasites off their skin to just playing around. Scientists don't agree. This is not a frequent sight, but it is not uncommon either. It usually occurs during the summer months when the water warms up.

I think I'll pull out the binoculars, pop open a Tecate for lunch, pull up a chair, and watch the show.

Olympia, WA
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for Cabo San Lucas
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11. Re: Hidden Cabo: Batrays

Now that we've had some fun, it's time for a little lesson in fish taxonomy. You could be seeing bat rays or mobula rays. Both have a habit of schooling and leaping out of the water, but they look quite different. In my experience I think it is most likely that these are mobulas.

Bat rays are a member of the subfamily Myliobatinae (collectively referred to as eagle rays) and genus Myliobatis (the bullnose rays). They have an elevated protruding head and a distinct face (that is distinct from the winged body). They use their "wings" for feeding by digging up prey from a sandy bottom and their prey consists of oysters, crab, clams, shrimp, lobster and fish.

Mobulas are a member of the subfamily Mobulinae (collectively referred to as devil and manta rays) which contain two genera: Manta and Mobula. Mantas and mobulas have a flattened head with no distinct face and the pair of protruding cephalic lobes derived from the pectoral fins. Unlike the bat rays, the mobulas are plankton feeders and these lobes (the obvious protrusions that you see in front of the mouth of mantas and mobulas) guide plankton bearing water into their mouth.

If you can get a little closer, it is really easy to see if these critters have the protruding lobes and a flat head (mobulas), or if the lobes are absent and the head is elevated (bat rays) I'm betting a beer on mobulas.

12. Re: Hidden Cabo: Batrays

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