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Giant eagle rays launch themselves out of the Pacific

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A plankton bloom attracts millions of pelagic red crabs, creating a red cloud in the waters off of Baja California. But crabs aren’t the only hungry ocean dwellers in the area; swarms of giant eagle rays also arrive off the western coast of Mexico to mate and to find a meal.

And despite each weighing over a ton, these cartilaginous fish can launch themselves out of the water. There’s some stunning footage in this Epic Animal Migrations: Mexico clip from The Smithsonian Channel.

crabs in a plankton bloom
More details from by the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology:

“Rays of the family Myliobatidae are well known for their extreme grace and great size. With three subfamilies containing seven genera and about 42 species, the family includes the eagle rays, manta or devil rays, and cownose rays. These are free-swimming rays with broad, powerful pectoral fins that can measure over 6 m from tip to tip. Many members of the family are able to leap completely out of the water into the air.”

giant jumping eagle rays

“Although rays can grow very large, they are still preyed upon by other large fishes, especially sharks… Eagle, manta, and cownose rays are nearly cosmopolitan in tropical and warm temperate seas, and therefore are a consistent predator on populations of mollusks, crustaceans, planktonic organisms, and small fishes.”

giant jumping eagle rays
Watch more videos about rays, including:
β€’ California Devil Rays Leap from the Pacific
β€’Β Mobula rays swarm near La Paz, Mexico
β€’ The largest school of rays ever caught on film
β€’Β Cownose rays, a brief but beautiful gathering

Bonus: A submarine team discovers thousands of swarming red crabs.

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