Common name: Devil rays, Devilrays, Manta rays


Large pelagic filter feeding rays with a large wide disc and 5 gill slits on the underside. The pectoral fins extend forward forming 'horns' in front of the head that can be uncurled to scoop food into the wide mouth..

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Devil rays, MOBULIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

Mobulids are currently considered to belong to one of two genera: Manta (two species) and Mobula (nine species). Characters that have been used to separate the groups include the fact that mantas have a terminal mouth, while themouth of mobulas is on the underside of the head. Mantas also lack teeth on the upper jaw.

However, a number of authors in the pasat have suggest that the genus Mobula is not natural grouping - and recent genetic evidence suggests that the Manta genus is nested within Mobula.

Family Conservation

Manta and mobula rays are threatened by a number of factors including bycatch in non-target fisheries, boat strikes and bycatch in nets. However, the greatest threat is being targeted in fisheries for their meat and skin - and a growing demand for their gill rakers which are used traditional Chinese medicine.


Bray, D.J. 2018

Family Resources


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Couturier L.I.E., Marshall A.D., Jaine F.R.A., Kashiwagi T., Pierce S.J., Townsend K.A., Weeks S.J., Bennett M.B. & Richardson A.J. (2012) Biology, ecology and conservation of mobulid rays, the Mobulidae (Gill 1893). Journal of Fish Biology 80: 1075-1119.

González-Isáis, M. & Domínguez, H.M.M. 2004. Comparative anatomy of the superfamily Myliobatoidea (Chondrichthyes) with some comments on phylogeny. Journal of Morphology262: 517-535

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Kashiwagi T, Marshall AD, Bennett MB, Ovenden JR. 2012. The genetic signature of recent speciation in manta rays (Manta alfredi and M. birostris).Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution64: 212–218.

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. 2nd edition. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 644 pp. 91 pls figs

Marshall, A.D, Compagno, L.J.V. & Bennett, M.B. 2009. Redescription of the genus Manta with resurrection ofManta alfredi (Krefft, 1868) (Chondrichthyes; Myliobatoidei; Mobulidae). Zootaxa 2301: 1-28

Marshall AD, Pierce SJ, Bennett MB. 2008. Morphological measurements of manta rays (Manta birostris) with a description of a foetus from the east coast of Southern Africa. Zootaxa 1717: 24–30.

Naylor GJP, Caira JN, Jensen K, Rosana KAM, Straube N, Lakner C (2012) Elasmobranch phylogeny: a mitochondrial estimate based on 595 species. In: Carrier JC, Musick JA, Heithaus MR (eds) Biology of sharks and their relatives, 2nd edn. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, pp 31-56

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp. [in the family Myliobatidae]

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

O’Malley MP, Lee-Brooks K, Medd HB (2013) The Global Economic Impact of Manta Ray Watching Tourism. PLoS ONE 8(5): e65051. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065051

Paig-Tran, E.W.M., Kleinteich, T. & Summers, A.P. (2013). The filter pads and filtration mechanisms of the devil rays: variation at macro and microscopic scales (Manta Walbaum 1792 and Mobula Rafinesque 1810). J. Morph. 274(7): 1026-1043.  doi: 10.1002/jmor.20160 Abstract

Poortvliet, M., Olsen, J., Croll, D., Bernardi, G., Newton, K., Kollias, S., O’Sullivan, J., Fernando, D., Stevens, G., Galván-Magaña, F., Seret, B., Wintner, S. & Hoarau, G. 2014. A dated molecular phylogeny of manta and devil rays (Mobulidae) based on mitogenome and nuclear sequences. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 83. 10.1016/j.ympev.2014.10.012. 

Stevens, G. 2011. Field Guide to the Identification of Mobulid Rays (Mobulidae): Indo-West Pacific. Manta Trust. 19 p. PDF

White, W.T., Corrigan, S., Yang, L., Henderson, A.C., Bazinet, A.L., Swofford, D.L. & Naylor, G.J.P. 2017. Phylogeny of the manta and devilrays (Chondrichthyes: mobulidae), with an updated taxonomic arrangement for the family. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 2017 zlx018. doi: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx018 Open access

White WT, Giles J, Dharmadi, Potter IC (2006) Data on the bycatch fishery and reproductive biology of mobulid rays (Myliobatiformes) in Indonesia. Fisheries Research 82(1-3): 65-73.