Posted: July 2, 2014 | By: Kelly Dickerson [LiveScience]
The Chilean devil ray has always been considered a shallow-water swimmer, but new research shows that the species frequently dives to depths of more than 6,000 feet (1,800 meters), likely in search of food.
Prior to this research, marine biologists thought Chilean devil rays (Mobula tarapacana) did not descend below 3,280 feet (1,000 m). However, new satellite tracking data now shows that these rays are among the deepest-diving marine animals. Researchers think the rays spend most of their time in shallow water to warm themselves, and then dive down to extreme depths in search of small crustaceans and fish to eat.
"The fact that they were traveling so far horizontally was not necessarily surprising, but the diving behavior was very surprising," Simon Thorrold, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, told Live Science. "What they're doing down there is the big unknown."
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