Conservationist and dive instructor Jay Clue was on his way back to the marina after diving off the coast of Baja California in Mexico earlier this year when he spotted several splashes in the water – the kind of splashes made by thousands of mobula rays.

Commonly called ’flying rays' for their habit of leaping out of the water in spectacular fashion, mobulas migrate en masse off the coast of Mexico, and Baja California is home to some of the largest schools in the world.

Clue dived in and managed to capture mesmerising footage of thousands of rays cruising in the hazy blue water.

Mobulas hail from the same group as the better-known manta ray and they can reach an astonishing width of 17 feet (5 metres) – that's second only to the manta in size. These winged fish are capable of launching themselves more than two metres (6.5ft) out of the water and can sometimes stay airborne for several seconds before splashing back down.

When they aren’t soaring above the waves, they may be diving deep below them. Mobula rays in the Azores have been recorded diving to depths of nearly two kilometres (1,24 miles). A special mass of blood vessels helps keep the rays’ brains warm in the icy conditions of the deep sea.

The horn-like protrusions at the front of the mobulas’ head are another adaptation perfect for deep-sea living. This appendage – known as a cephalic fin – helps funnel food into the ray’s mouth and may be useful when they forage in the darkness of the ocean depths.


Header image: Leonard Clifford