Mobula tarapacana (Philippi 1892)

Other Names: Box Ray, Chilean Devil Ray, Devil Ray, Greater Guinean Mobula, Sicklefin Devil Ray, Spiny Mobula

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J., Mobula tarapacana in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Apr 2024,

Mobula tarapacana (Philippi 1892)

More Info


Recorded from just inside 12 Mile Reef, about 15.7 km SE of Bermagui, New South Wales. Elsewhere this species occurs worldwide in tropical and warm temperate waters, with a patchy distribution. 
It may be a seasonal visitor to areas with regular upwelling in oceanic island groups, and near offshore pinnacles and seamounts (White et al. 2006a). This devil ray undertakes long migrations of up to 3,800 km and has been recorded diving to a depth of 1,896 m (Thorrold et al. 2014).
The species is seen either solitary or in schools.


The species is an aplacental, live-bearing matrotroph (the embryo receives nourishment from uterine milk secretion), and females produce on average a single pup per year.


The dried branchial filter plates (gill plates or pre-branchial appendages) from devil rays are used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine industry. They are used as a health tonic purported to treat a wide variety of conditions.
In some areas, the species is also targeted for food and local products using a variety of gear types including harpooning, longlining, handline, netting, and trawling.


Devil rays are very susceptible to fishing pressure as they have very low reproductive rates (females give birth to about one pup per year) and they have low post-release survival.

Populations are considered to have declined globally - a trend that is expected to continue due to the demand for devil ray gill plates.


Bray, D.J.

Mobula tarapacana (Philippi 1892)


Couturier, L.I.E., Marshall, A.D., Jaine, F.R.A., Kashiwagi, T., Pierce, S.J., Townsend, K.A., Weeks, S.J., Bennet, M.B. & Richardson, A.J. 2012. Biology, ecology and conservation of the Mobulidae. Journal of Fish Biology 80: 1075-1119.

Duffy, C.A. & Vogiatzis, A. 2016. First record of the sicklefin devilray Mobula tarapacana (Myliobatiformes: Mobulidae) from Australian waters. Zootaxa 4126 (1): 141-145. DOI: Abstract

Heinrichs, S., O'Malley, M., Medd, H. & Hilton, P. 2011. Manta Ray of Hope 2011 Report: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays. WildAid, San Francisco, CA.
Lawson, J.M., Walls, R.H.L., Fordham, S.V., O'Malley, M.P., Heupel, M.R., Stevens, G., Fernando, D., Budziak, A., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Davidson, L.N.K., Ender, I., Francis, M.P., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G. & Dulvy, N.K. 2016. Sympathy for the devil: a conservation strategy for devil and manta rays. PeerJ PrePrints 4:e1731v1.

Lewis, S.A., Setiasih, N., Dharmadi, Fahmi, O’Malley, M.P., Campbell, S.J., Yusuf, M. & Sianipar, A. 2015. Assessing Indonesian manta and devil ray populations through historical landings and fishing community interviews. PeerJ Preprints: available online at

Notarbartolo di Sciara, G. 1987. A revisionary study of the genus Mobula Rafinesque, 1810 (Chondrichthyes: Mobulidae) with the description of a new species. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 91: 1-91.

Pardo, S.A., Walls, R.H.L. & Bigman, J.S. 2016. Mobula tarapacana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T60199A100016302. Downloaded on 25 November 2016.

Poortvliet, M., Olsen, J., Croll, D.A., Bernardi, G., Newton, K., Kollias, S., O’Sullivan, J., Fernando, D., Stevens, G., Galván Magaña, F., Seret, B., Wintner, S. & Hoarau, G. 2015. A dated molecular phylogeny of manta and devil rays (Mobulidae) based on mitogenome and nuclear sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 83: 72-85.

Thorrold, S.R., Afonso, P., Fontes, J, Braun, C.D., Santos, R.S, Skomal, G.B. & Berumen, M.L. 2014. Extreme diving behavior in devil rays links surface water and the deep ocean. Nature Communications 5: 4274.

Ward-Paige, C.A., David, B. & Worm, B. 2013. Global population trends and human use patterns of Manta and Mobula rays. PLoS ONE 8(9): e74835. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074835.

White, W.T., Giles, J., Dharmadi and Potter, I.C. 2006a. Data on the bycatch fishery and reproductive biology of mobulid rays (Myliobatiformes) in Indonesia. Fisheries Research 82: 65-73.

White, W.T., Last, P.R., Stevens, J.D., Yearsley, G.K., Fahmi & Dharmadi. 2006. Economically Important Sharks and Rays of Indonesia. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra, Australia.

Wourms, J.P. 1977. Reproduction and development in chondrichthyan fishes. American Zoologist 17: 379–410.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37041006

Conservation:IUCN Vulnerable

Depth:0-1896 m

Habitat:Pelagic, oceanic

Max Size:328 cm disc width

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map