Flight of the rays

59

Runner-up 2010

Behaviour: All Other Animals

Florian Schulz, Germany

Flight of the rays

This astonishing aerial view of a massive congregation of Munk’s devil rays was taken over the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. It’s not unusual to see these smaller relatives of the manta ray somersault out of the water – locals call them tortillas because of the way they slap down into the water. But as this wonderful perspective shows, for all the individuals leaping out that are visible at sea level, there are many more below the surface. ‘When I first saw this wildlife phenomenon from the distance,’ says Florian, ‘I was not sure what I was looking at. The ocean was boiling. It was hard to tell how many rays there were, because the shoal must have been as thick as it was wide.’ And this image shows only a quarter of the whole scene – Florian cropped the photo to emphasize just how concentrated the rays were. No one knows why the rays gather like this, whether to mate, herd prey or migrate or just for the sheer joy of being together.

Technical specification

Nikon D3X + 200-400mm f4 lens; 1/800 sec at f4.5; ISO 800.

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