Lesser devil rays have been known to reach speeds of 40 miles per hour while swimming and will even leap out of the water, gracefully flap their wings, before belly flopping back into the water.
Coloration is dark gray to black along the back with a creamier-white underside
Body is shaped like a diamond with long, pointed pectoral fins that make this ray twice as wide as it is long
Tail is small, whip-like, and the same length as the body
Cephalic fins (fins that protrude from the head) resemble horns when tightly curled
The lesser devil ray is a smaller member of the devil ray family, which is named for the cephalic fins on either side of its mouth that resemble horns. When foraging, these fins are unfurled and help direct food towards the mouth. This coastal, pelagic ray feasts mainly on plankton, which is one of the smallest organisms in the ocean, though they will also occasionally eat small fish and shrimp.
Mobula rays have the lowest reproduction rate of all elasmobranchs (sharks and rays), giving birth to one pup at a time and breeding for only one to three years. As a result, recent increase in commercial fisheries by-catch could have a significant impact on their population.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the lesser devil ray population as Data Deficient due to the lack of understanding on population trends and what impact fisheries are having on this species.
Up to 48 inches (123 centimeters)
Planktonic crustaceans and small schooling fish
Warm temperate and tropical waters in the Western Atlantic from New Jersey to northern Argentina