Mobula japanica

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The Spinetail Mobula (Mobula japanica), or Japanese Devil Ray is the one largest of the genus Mobula, growing to a maximum of 3100 millimetres wingspan with males maturing at 2016 milllimetres wingspan and females at greater than 2360 millimetres. Mobula are slow-growing, large-bodied migratory, planktivorous animals with small, highly fragmented populations that are sparsely distributed across the tropical and temperate oceans of the world. Their biological and behavioural characteristics (low reproductive rates, late maturity and aggregating behaviour) make these species particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation in fisheries and extremely slow to recover from depletion. 

The Spinetail Mobula's range is not clearly defined but occurs in inshore, offshore, and possibly deep waters. This species prefers temperate or tropical waters. This species may be able to tolerate lower water temperatures than other mobulids.

Mobula rays are caught in commercial and artisanal fisheries throughout their global warm water range in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Directed fisheries primarily utilize harpoons and nets, while significant bycatch occurs in purse seine, gill and trawl net fisheries targeting other species, including on the high seas. A recent surge in demand for mobula ray products (gill plates) in China and reports of increased direct fishing effort in key range states suggests an urgent and escalating threat to these species. The Spinetail Mobula is increasingly being targeted in SE Asia and that population is listed as Vulnerable.

As large species which feed low in the food chain, Mobula can be viewed as indicator species for the overall health of the ecosystem. Studies have suggested that removing large, filter-feeding organisms from marine environments can result in significant, cascading species composition changes.


Assessment information
CMS InstrumentsCMS, Sharks (2016)
IUCN StatusNear threatened
Date of entry in Appendix I2014
Date of entry in Appendix II2014
Geographic range
Countries Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tuvalu, United States of America, Viet Nam, Yemen
Common names
EnglishSpinetail Mobula, Spinetail Devil Ray, Japanese Devil Ray
FrenchManta Aguillat
SpanishManta De Espina, Mante De Aguijón
Scientific name Mobula japanica
Author(Müller & Henle 1841)
Standard referenceEschmeyer, W.N. (1990). Catalogue of the Genera of Recent Fishes. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California.
SynonymsMobula rancureli (Cadenat, 1959)

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