Giant Devil Rays in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Tethys Research Institute

Dataset credit

Tethys Research Institute


Primary contact Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara Tethys Research Institute
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University



The giant devil ray Mobula mobular, the only Mediterranean mobulid, is subject to mortality caused by directed and accidental captures in fisheries throughout the region. Whilst the combination of human impacts, limited range and a low reproductive potential is not inconsistent with its endangered listing, there are insufficient data to enable a quantitative assessment of trends. Without this, it is difficult to assess and prioritise threats and develop effective conservation actions. Using results from aerial surveys conducted between 2009 and 2014 over the Ligurian, Corsican, Sardinian, northern and central Tyrrhenian seas (626,228 km2), this study provides the first quantitative information on giant devil ray abundance and habitat choice in the western Mediterranean. Devil rays were observed in all seasons except winter, with their estimated abundance in the study area peaking in summer.
The overall uncorrected mean density in the study area during summer was estimated at 0.0257 individuals km-2 (range: 0.017–0.044), resulting in a total abundance estimate of 6,092 (12.7%CV) individuals at the surface; once corrected for availability bias, this estimate indicates a summer presence of >12,700 devil rays in the study area. Rays were mostly observed alone even if occasionally, larger aggregations up to a maximum of 18 individuals were observed. Although observed throughout the study area, spatial modelling identified their preferred habitat to be over a broad strip connecting the Tuscan Archipelago to Eastern Sardinia, over a wide range of water depths ranging from 10 to 2000m. The observed seasonal changes in giant devil ray distribution in this study, combined with similar evidence from other areas in the Mediterranean, support the hypothesis that the species
undertakes latitudinal migrations across the region, taking advantage of highly productive waters in the north during summer, and warmer southern waters during winter.



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Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
oidUnique ID number (generated by OBIS-SEAMAP)
sectorSub areas
dateDate of the sighting
timeTime of the sighting (local time zone)
latLatitude in decimal degree
longLongitude in decimal degree
group_sizeGroup size
speciesSpecies name
sp_tsnTaxonomic Serial Number added by OBIS-SEAMAP
geomGeometry field added by OBIS-SEAMAP
Marine mammals0
Sea turtles0
Rays and sharks298
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin2009-07-21
Date, End2013-08-07
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude36.27 - 44.30
Longitude5.85 - 19.00
Coord. prec.6 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
Traveled (km)0
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Sharing policy CC-BY-NC (Minimum)
Shared with OBIS
GBIF (via DOI)
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