Tourists that thought the California Gray Whale migration in La Paz was an amazing feat of nature should be ready for an even bigger amazing display – the migration of the rays.
The Munk’s Devil Rays Migration
It might seem like it is out of an ocean-based horror movie for some, but the amazing migration of rays, also known as Munk’s Devil Rays, is quite the sight to behold.
During the transitional weather months of April and May, Munk’s Devil Rays are abundant off the shores near La Paz. They are attracted by the amount of plankton, their food, in the water.
Because of this, groups of hundreds of rays may collect in one area and put on a display when swimming around collecting their daily meals.
What Are Munk’s Devil Rays?
Munk’s Devil Rays are animals typically found in tropical ocean waters, from the Gulf of California all the way to the South American coast of Peru.
They are the smallest of all devil rays, growing to a span of about four feet wide.
A favorite of divers and tourists, they have been known to leap up out of the water, conducting some aerobatics on the way down that would even be the envy of some Olympic gymnasts.
They are classified as a vulnerable species due to the fact they are often caught in fishing nets and their low reproductive rates – producing only one pup in a litter every two to seven years.
They often don’t like to get close to humans, especially divers bubbling from their air tanks.
Why They Are At Risk
Munk’s Devil Rays are at risk in Baja California Sur because of the increase in commercial fishing using trawl nets. The nets collect everything in the sea that does not fit in-between spaces in the nets. This leads to some collateral catching of unwanted species, such as Munk’s Devil Rays.
Also, loss of habitat due to warming waters along with the human impact is affecting the numbers of this important ocean species.
The Fight For Protection
The most significant way to protect Munk’s Devil Ray is by first learning more about this unique ocean species in La Paz. Unfortunately, not much is known about the animals. In fact, they were only first identified and named back in 1987.
More research about the species and its unique schooling migration behavior is being conducted in Baja California Sur.
It is hoped that as more details are known about the Munk’s Devil Rays, more can be done to protect the animals and the fragile ocean environment in Baja California Sur they call home.
What Can Tourists Do To Help?
One of the most important things tourists can do is not to harass the shy animals while in their natural environment. This can cause undue stress to the animal and affect their health along with their reproductive rate.
Visitors to La Paz should also consider supporting industries that catch and produce only “line-caught” fish for consumption.
These companies do not use trawling nets when catching fish and are actually safer for a number of species, including Munk’s Devil Rays.
Tourists should learn more about their behavior and their habits by enjoying swimming with and observing Munk’s Devil Rays where they call home.
Where To See The Migration
Catch the annual amazing migration display in La Paz before it is gone about a month from now.
Many tourist boat providers can take tourists to Isla Espiritu Santo to see the display. Also, they can go to Las Ventas and Cabo Pulmo near La Paz to see them on their own.
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