Devil Rays Leap High Into The Air and No One Is Sure Why

by Chau Tu

The Munk’s devil ray (Mobula munkiana), pictured above, got the nickname “tortilla” from the fishermen in the Gulf of California where the species lives, says Octavio Aburto, an assistant professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who took the photo.
 
One reason for the moniker, he says, is because this species is smaller than the three other devil ray species also found in the Gulf, averaging about three feet in wingspan compared with two or three times that size for its brethren. And secondly, the sound of the ray smacking its belly onto the ocean surface after jumping into the air is reminiscent of the slapping of tortilla dough between a chef’s palms.
 
All 9 species of devil rays leap out of the water, but no one yet knows why, says Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, a marine ecologist who was the first to describe the Munk’s devil ray while he was earning a Ph.D at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the early 1980s. But as far as scientists can tell, the Munk’s devil ray is the only species that engages in “spectacular, frequently repeated jumping while in large-to-humongous groups,” he says, although it’s not yet clear if there’s a pattern to their leaping…
(read more: Science Friday)
photos: devil rays in Cabo Pulmo, Mex, by Octavio Aburto / iLCP
Newly Found ‘Godzilla Shark’ Had Teeth Like Namesake
by Jennifer Viegas
A 300-million-year-old shark, dubbed “Godzilla shark,” has been found in the Monzano Mountains east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, paleontologist John-Paul-Hodnett informed Discovery News.
Hodnett is an independent researcher with institutional ties to Northern Arizona University and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. He serendipitously came across the tip of the shark’s nose, embedded in rock, while on a trip to the mountains. Its size, anatomy, age, and state of preservation make it a noteworthy discovery, in addition to the shark’s resemblance to the fictional Godzilla…
(read more: Discovery News)
illustration by Ray Troll

Newly Found ‘Godzilla Shark’ Had Teeth Like Namesake

by Jennifer Viegas

A 300-million-year-old shark, dubbed “Godzilla shark,” has been found in the Monzano Mountains east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, paleontologist John-Paul-Hodnett informed Discovery News.

Hodnett is an independent researcher with institutional ties to Northern Arizona University and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. He serendipitously came across the tip of the shark’s nose, embedded in rock, while on a trip to the mountains. Its size, anatomy, age, and state of preservation make it a noteworthy discovery, in addition to the shark’s resemblance to the fictional Godzilla…

(read more: Discovery News)

illustration by Ray Troll

libutron
libutron:

Bat Ray | ©divindk   (Channel Islands National Park, California, US)
Myliobatis californica (Myliobatidae), better known as Bat Ray or Bat Eagle Ray, is commonly found in sandy and muddy bays and sloughs, also on rocky bottom and in kelp beds, along the coastal waters of the eastern Pacific, from central Oregon in the US to the Gulf of California in Mexico, and in the Galapagos Islands [1]. 
Bat rays are commonly distinguished from other rays because of their distinct, protruding head and large eyes. They have a flat body with a dorsal fin at the base of the tail. The tail is whiplike and can be as long or longer than the width of the body. It is armed with a barbed stinger that is venomous. Bat rays are named for their two long pectoral fins that are shaped like the wings of a bat [2].
Like other ray species, bat rays appear to migrate from inshore waters during the colder months of the year, and return to the same localities year after year [3].

libutron:

Bat Ray | ©divindk   (Channel Islands National Park, California, US)

Myliobatis californica (Myliobatidae), better known as Bat Ray or Bat Eagle Ray, is commonly found in sandy and muddy bays and sloughs, also on rocky bottom and in kelp beds, along the coastal waters of the eastern Pacific, from central Oregon in the US to the Gulf of California in Mexico, and in the Galapagos Islands [1]. 

Bat rays are commonly distinguished from other rays because of their distinct, protruding head and large eyes. They have a flat body with a dorsal fin at the base of the tail. The tail is whiplike and can be as long or longer than the width of the body. It is armed with a barbed stinger that is venomous. Bat rays are named for their two long pectoral fins that are shaped like the wings of a bat [2].

Like other ray species, bat rays appear to migrate from inshore waters during the colder months of the year, and return to the same localities year after year [3].

Manta Rays: Tracking the Lives of Non-stop Swimmers
by Andrea Marshall
For the month of April 2014, National Geographic Pristine Seas expedition leader Paul Rose will lead a group of key scientists and filmmakers, together with National Geographic Emerging Explorer Andrea Marshall and the Marine Megafauna Foundation, to explore, survey, and record what they expect to be some of the healthiest reefs in East Africa, home to ocean giants like manta rays, dugongs, and more.
There are so many mysteries yet to be unraveled when it comes to the ocean. One of them that’s close to my own heart is the secretive life of the manta ray, one of the world’s largest and most majestic fish. I’ve spent the past decade trying to learn more about this elusive animal, but it’s proven quite a challenge. They’re a highly mobile species that never stops swimming—so how on Earth do you learn more about their lifestyle and habits? Luckily for me, I have technology on my side, a huge advantage for field researchers in this day and age.

One of the tools we currently use to track these giant rays is acoustic telemetry, a system that works by attaching small acoustic transmitters to their backs. These small pinger tags are picked up by receiving stations placed down on our inshore reefs. In Mozambique we’ve been using this technology for years, and slowly we’re piecing together the story of their lives along the country’s southern coast…
(read more: National Geo)

photo: Giant manta ray (Manta birostris) at Zavora, Mozambique (Photo by Andrea Marshall)

Manta Rays: Tracking the Lives of Non-stop Swimmers

by Andrea Marshall

For the month of April 2014, National Geographic Pristine Seas expedition leader Paul Rose will lead a group of key scientists and filmmakers, together with National Geographic Emerging Explorer Andrea Marshall and the Marine Megafauna Foundation, to explore, survey, and record what they expect to be some of the healthiest reefs in East Africa, home to ocean giants like manta rays, dugongs, and more.

There are so many mysteries yet to be unraveled when it comes to the ocean. One of them that’s close to my own heart is the secretive life of the manta ray, one of the world’s largest and most majestic fish. I’ve spent the past decade trying to learn more about this elusive animal, but it’s proven quite a challenge. They’re a highly mobile species that never stops swimming—so how on Earth do you learn more about their lifestyle and habits? Luckily for me, I have technology on my side, a huge advantage for field researchers in this day and age.

One of the tools we currently use to track these giant rays is acoustic telemetry, a system that works by attaching small acoustic transmitters to their backs. These small pinger tags are picked up by receiving stations placed down on our inshore reefs. In Mozambique we’ve been using this technology for years, and slowly we’re piecing together the story of their lives along the country’s southern coast…

(read more: National Geo)

photo: Giant manta ray (Manta birostris) at Zavora, Mozambique (Photo by Andrea Marshall)

Rare Goblin Shark Caught in Gulf of Mexico
Commercial fisher Carl Moore wasn’t sure what he had netted last week just south of Key West, Florida, when he saw the fish’s flat, blade-like snout. Only after the Georgia angler photographed and released his catch was its identity confirmed: It was a goblin shark, a rare deep-sea shark, and it’s believed to be only the second such specimen ever caught in the Gulf of Mexico…
(read more: National Geo)
photograph by Carl Moore

Rare Goblin Shark Caught in Gulf of Mexico

Commercial fisher Carl Moore wasn’t sure what he had netted last week just south of Key West, Florida, when he saw the fish’s flat, blade-like snout. Only after the Georgia angler photographed and released his catch was its identity confirmed: It was a goblin shark, a rare deep-sea shark, and it’s believed to be only the second such specimen ever caught in the Gulf of Mexico…

(read more: National Geo)

photograph by Carl Moore

palaeopedia
palaeopedia:

The frilled Shark, Chlamydoselachus anguineus (1884)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ChondrichthyesSubclass : ElasmobranchiiOrder : HexanchiformesFamily : ChlamydoselachidaeGenus : ChlamydoselachusSpecies : C. anguineus
Near threatened
1,5 m long and 10 kg (size)
Oceans worldwide (map)
With its elongated, eel-like body and strange appearance, the frilled shark has long been likened to the mythical sea serpent. The head is broad and flattened with a short, rounded snout. The nostrils are vertical slits, separated into incurrent and excurrent openings by a leading flap of skin. The moderately large eyes are horizontally oval and lack nictitating membranes (protective third eyelids). The very long jaws are positioned terminally (at the end of the snout), as opposed to the underslung jaws of most sharks. The corners of the mouth are devoid of furrows or folds. The tooth rows are rather widely spaced, numbering 19–28 in the upper jaw and 21–29 in the lower jaw. The teeth number around 300 in all; each tooth is small, with three slender, needle-like cusps alternating with two cusplets. There are six pairs of long gill slits with a “frilly” appearance created by the extended tips of the gill filaments, giving this shark its name. The first pair of gill slits meet across the throat, forming a “collar”.
Highly specialized for life in the deep sea, the frilled shark has a reduced, poorly calcified skeleton and an enormous liver filled with low-density lipids, allowing it to maintain its position in the water column with little effort. It is one of the few sharks with an “open” lateral line, in which the mechanoreceptive hair cells are positioned in grooves that are directly exposed to the surrounding seawater. This configuration is thought to be basal in sharks and may enhance its sensitivity to the minute movements of its prey. Many frilled sharks are found with the tips of their tails missing, probably from predatory attacks by other shark species.Parasites identified from this shark include a tapeworm in the genus Monorygma, the fluke Otodistomum veliporum, and the nematode Mooleptus rabuka.

palaeopedia:

The frilled Shark, Chlamydoselachus anguineus (1884)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Chondrichthyes
Subclass : Elasmobranchii
Order : Hexanchiformes
Family : Chlamydoselachidae
Genus : Chlamydoselachus
Species : C. anguineus

  • Near threatened
  • 1,5 m long and 10 kg (size)
  • Oceans worldwide (map)

With its elongated, eel-like body and strange appearance, the frilled shark has long been likened to the mythical sea serpent. The head is broad and flattened with a short, rounded snout. The nostrils are vertical slits, separated into incurrent and excurrent openings by a leading flap of skin. The moderately large eyes are horizontally oval and lack nictitating membranes (protective third eyelids). The very long jaws are positioned terminally (at the end of the snout), as opposed to the underslung jaws of most sharks. The corners of the mouth are devoid of furrows or folds. The tooth rows are rather widely spaced, numbering 19–28 in the upper jaw and 21–29 in the lower jaw. The teeth number around 300 in all; each tooth is small, with three slender, needle-like cusps alternating with two cusplets. There are six pairs of long gill slits with a “frilly” appearance created by the extended tips of the gill filaments, giving this shark its name. The first pair of gill slits meet across the throat, forming a “collar”.

Highly specialized for life in the deep sea, the frilled shark has a reduced, poorly calcified skeleton and an enormous liver filled with low-density lipids, allowing it to maintain its position in the water column with little effort. It is one of the few sharks with an “open” lateral line, in which the mechanoreceptive hair cells are positioned in grooves that are directly exposed to the surrounding seawater. This configuration is thought to be basal in sharks and may enhance its sensitivity to the minute movements of its prey. Many frilled sharks are found with the tips of their tails missing, probably from predatory attacks by other shark species.Parasites identified from this shark include a tapeworm in the genus Monorygma, the fluke Otodistomum veliporum, and the nematode Mooleptus rabuka.

libutron
libutron:

Banjo Shark - Montague Island | ©Rowland Cain  (Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia)
The Banjo shark or Fiddler ray, genus Trygonorrhina, are guitarfish in the family Rhinobatidae and order Rajiformes.
Banjo sharks are actually shark-like ray with disc flattened, oval to diamond-shaped; snout short, broadly triangular; row of large thorn-like denticles along the middle of the back; yellowish-brown above with dark-edged greyish bands radiating from the eyes and on either sides of back; lower caudal-fin lobe poorly-defined; and no distinct triangular or diamond-shaped marking behind eyes [1].
There are two species of banjo sharks found along the eastern and southern coasts of Australia [2].

libutron:

Banjo Shark - Montague Island | ©Rowland Cain  (Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia)

The Banjo shark or Fiddler ray, genus Trygonorrhina, are guitarfish in the family Rhinobatidae and order Rajiformes.

Banjo sharks are actually shark-like ray with disc flattened, oval to diamond-shaped; snout short, broadly triangular; row of large thorn-like denticles along the middle of the back; yellowish-brown above with dark-edged greyish bands radiating from the eyes and on either sides of back; lower caudal-fin lobe poorly-defined; and no distinct triangular or diamond-shaped marking behind eyes [1].

There are two species of banjo sharks found along the eastern and southern coasts of Australia [2].

ichthyologist
ichthyologist:

Spotted Wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus)
Wobbegongs are carpet sharks known for their bottom-dwelling behaviour. The name “wobbegong” is thought to have come from an Australian Aboriginal language and means ‘shaggy beard’. This refers to the tassels growing around the fish’s mouth, which serves to disguise the predator as a weedy rock. They are ambush predators, waiting for small fish to unknowingly come too close before quickly striking them down.
Richard Ling on Flickr

ichthyologist:

Spotted Wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus)

Wobbegongs are carpet sharks known for their bottom-dwelling behaviour. The name “wobbegong” is thought to have come from an Australian Aboriginal language and means ‘shaggy beard’. This refers to the tassels growing around the fish’s mouth, which serves to disguise the predator as a weedy rock. They are ambush predators, waiting for small fish to unknowingly come too close before quickly striking them down.

Richard Ling on Flickr

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)
A satellite-tagged great white shark called Lydia is about to make history as the first of its species to be seen crossing from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Lydia was first tagged off Florida as part of the Ocearch scientific project. She is currently swimming above the mid-Atlantic ridge in the center of the Atlantic… 
Read about it on BBC News

A satellite-tagged great white shark called Lydia is about to make history as the first of its species to be seen crossing from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Lydia was first tagged off Florida as part of the Ocearch scientific project. She is currently swimming above the mid-Atlantic ridge in the center of the Atlantic…

Read about it on BBC News

Baby Shark Rays Born at Newport Aquarium in Kentucky

Kentucky’s Newport Aquarium has announced that Sweet Pea, the first documented Shark Ray to breed in a controlled environment, gave birth to seven pups on January 24! Three females and three males survived the nearly five-hour birthing process, and are being carefully monitored.

Sweet Pea’s pups arrived during the same week as an IUCN report estimating that one in four shark and ray species are at risk of extinction.

See videos and read more: ZooBorns

palaeopedia
palaeopedia:

The Falcatus (1985)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ChondrichthyesSubclass : ElasmobranchiiOrder : SymmoriidaFamily : FalcatidaeGenus : FalcatusSpecies : F. falcatus
Middle Carboniferous (358,9 - 323,2 Ma)
30 cm long and 1 kg (size)
Bear Gluch bay, Missouri in USA (map)
A close relative of Stethacanthus, which lived a few million years earlier, the tiny prehistoric shark Falcatus is known from numerous fossil remains from Missouri, dating from the Carboniferous period. Besides its small size, this early shark was distinguished by its large eyes (the better for hunting prey deep underwater) and symmetrical tail, which hints that it was an accomplished swimmer. Also, the abundant fossil evidence has revealed striking evidence of sexual dimorphism—Falcatus males had narrow, sickle-shaped spines jutting out of the tops of their heads, which presumably attracted females for mating purposes.

palaeopedia:

The Falcatus (1985)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Chondrichthyes
Subclass : Elasmobranchii
Order : Symmoriida
Family : Falcatidae
Genus : Falcatus
Species : F. falcatus

  • Middle Carboniferous (358,9 - 323,2 Ma)
  • 30 cm long and 1 kg (size)
  • Bear Gluch bay, Missouri in USA (map)

A close relative of Stethacanthus, which lived a few million years earlier, the tiny prehistoric shark Falcatus is known from numerous fossil remains from Missouri, dating from the Carboniferous period. Besides its small size, this early shark was distinguished by its large eyes (the better for hunting prey deep underwater) and symmetrical tail, which hints that it was an accomplished swimmer. Also, the abundant fossil evidence has revealed striking evidence of sexual dimorphism—Falcatus males had narrow, sickle-shaped spines jutting out of the tops of their heads, which presumably attracted females for mating purposes.