A fever of mobulas, a phenomenon that only happens with mobula rays in Mexico

The Ultimate Guide to Mexico’s Mobula Rays

Everyone has heard of Manta rays, but are you familiar with their magnificent cousins, Mobula rays? Mobula rays have some features in common with Mantas, but you probably haven’t heard much about them!

There are several types of mobulas that can be found around the world, but the rays that gather around the Baja Peninsula on Mexico’s West Coast have some distinct behavioural patterns.

Read on to learn what makes the mobula rays of Mexico special, and why you should pay them a visit!

A grouping of Mobula Munkiana, or Munk rays in Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur
(Photo: Antonio Romero)

Where to See the Mobula rays in Mexico

Even in 2023, very little is known about the mobula rays of the world! Their migration patterns and lifestyles remain a mystery.

Yet, in a tiny town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, The Mobula Conservation Project is actively studying and learning more about Mexico’s mobula rays.

That’s because the Baja Peninsula is the best place in Mexico to see the mobula rays! Big destinations like Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, and Magdalena Bay take turns hosting the mobulas throughout the year.

Every year large aggregates of mobulas work their way around Baja California Sur seeking food and sheltered waters.

The Best Time to See Mobula Rays in Mexico

Mobula rays spend a lot of time in Baja California, so chances are if you are visiting Cabo or La Paz you will have a chance to see these beautiful creatures.

The best time to see mobula rays in Mexico is in the months of May, June, and July around Cabo San Lucas, La Ventana, and La Paz.

The summer might be the best months, but mobula rays can be spotted almost all year in Mexico! Here are the details:


The best time to see mobula rays in the Sea of Cortez is in the springtime. In these months the mobulas aggregate around La Paz to enjoy the shallow, protected waters.

From March to June the mobulas are easy to spot in this part of Mexico.

You can also find mobulas in the Gulf of Tehuantepec off the coast of Oaxaca in the spring.


The summer is a great time to see mobula rays in Baja California.

From April to June the southern tip of Baja California experiences upwelling. The changing currents bring nutrient-rich water from the deep closer to the surface.

This might be why the mobulas have such a strong presence in Baja in the summer!


December to February is the best time of year to see the mobula rays in Cabo San Lucas.

In the winter the mobula rays are more commonly found on the Pacific side of Baja. Places like Magdalena Bay will have thousands of visitors!

Take a tour from Baja California Sur to see the mobula rays Mexico

Mexico’s Best Mobula Ray Tours

Interested in visiting the mobulas in Mexico? Check out these awesome tours from Baja California!

Mobula Ray Snorkeling with Cabo Trek

A half-day adventure from Cabo San Lucas. This tour with Cabo Trek is accessible, easy, and with great customer service!

 I can wholeheartedly recommend [Cabo Trek] and would not hesitate to go out with them again.

More Reviews

Take a tour to see the mobula rays from cabo san lucas with Dive ninjas!

Dive Ninjas Mobula Expedition

Spend 5 or 8 days witnessing the largest aggregations on the planet with our friends Dive Ninjas!

We had such an incredible Above & Below expedition with Jay, Stan and Donna. It was the perfect combo of observing the largest aggregation of mobula rays above- and underwater, as well as building our passion for astrophotography with the clear night skies.

Everything was really well run and the folks at Dive Ninja genuinely care about conservation. We learnt so much about the mobula rays and the stars.


Mobula Ray Snorkel Adventure with Cabo Private Guide

Toño can attest to the quality of this tour from Cabo Private Guide, he used to lead them!

Snorkel with thousands of mobulas on this tour with Cabo Private Guide!
(Photo: Canva)

Amazing sightings of literally hundreds of Mobula rays. Ana and Julián are the very best guides and super fun! A memorable day for sure. Breathtaking! 💕🇲🇽

Paula – More Reviews

About Mexico’s Mobula Rays

What is a Mobula ray?

Mobula rays belong to the Mobula genus and are elasmobranchs, which means that their skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bone. Cartilage is more flexible than bone, which helps make them great swimmers!

There are ten different species of Mobula rays worldwide, eight are referred to as devil rays and two are manta rays. They are mostly found in tropical waters.

Mobula rays are filter feeders, so they follow certain ocean conditions to find their food source. They mostly eat types of plankton that can be found floating in the water column.

Mobula rays grow slowly and reproduce infrequently, and can live long natural lives when given the chance. Unfortunately, their slow reproduction rates are what makes them vulnerable to overexploitation.

Mobula rays live in the open ocean, grow slowly, and produce infrequently. They can live up to 20 years naturally, but their slow reproduction rate makes them at risk for overexploitation.

Most species of mobula rays are listed as Near Threatened, Vulnerable, or Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

A munk mobula ray and a manta ray are placed side by side to compare physical differences
When placed side by side, it’s easy to spot the differences between a Munk mobula and a Manta ray.
(Photo: Canva)

Mobula Rays vs Manta Rays

Before 2018, Manta rays were classified in their own genus. But after new studies and genetic tests were conducted, it was discovered that Mantas indeed belong to the genus of the mobulas!

But, this change is not widely known yet in local communities, so it is most likely you will hear devil rays referred to as mobulas, and manta rays referred to as mantas. So we will use the same terminology here!

Mobula rays and manta rays have similar shapes and features, but here are some simple ways to identify a mobula vs a manta ray!

#1 Body Size
The easiest way to tell a manta ray from a mobula is size! Manta rays are usually much bigger, growing up to seven meters/20 feet wide! Mobula rays on the other hand are generally a lot smaller.

This isn’t a perfect rule though, as the largest specie of mobulas, Mobula Tarapacana, can grow up to 3.7 metres/12 feet. These can sometimes be confused with a juvenile manta ray. But in general, it’s a good distinguishing feature.

#2 Mouth position
This was one of the main reasons mantas were originally considered a different genus because they have a different mouth position than other mobulas.

Manta rays – the mouth is at the very front tip of their body, in between the cephalic fins (the two horn-looking fins).

Mobula rays – the mouth is near the front, but slightly underneath the body facing down, like any other species of rays.

#3 Cephalic fins size
Cephalic fins are the “horns” on the manta and mobula rays’ that give them their distinctive look compared to other rays. Manta rays have longer cephalic fins than mobula rays which help set them apart. Also, mantas will roll their cephalic fins up to 3 times around when swimming, and mobula rays only twice.

Toño and his manta “sombrero” on a trip to Socorro.
(Photo: Jorge Cervera Houser)

Mexico’s Mobula Rays

Mexico is home to 5 types of mobulid rays, all of which can be found along the Baja Peninsula:

  • Oceanic Manta rays
  • the Sicklefin devil ray
  • Spinetail devil ray
  • Bentfin devil ray
  • Mobula Munkiana

Mobula Munkiana rays are the most common mobula rays in Baja California and are commonly referred to as “Munk’s devil ray”. You may also hear them called a “pigmy devil ray”, smooth tail devil ray, or sometimes even “flying ray”.

Mostly you will hear the mobulas referred to as Munk rays.

The Mobula Rays of Baja California

Munk rays are commonly found in the Easter Tropical Pacific from the coasts of the Baja California Peninsula, México and all the way down to the coasts of Peru.

Munk rays are the most common devil ray found in Mexico, they can grow up to 1.3 metres/ 4.3 feet wide and weigh up to 25kg/55lbs.

Their brown colouring and bright white bellies make Munk rays easily distinguishable from other mobulas.

The most unique characteristic of the Munk rays is their unique preference to gather in groups called “fevers” – a massive aggregate of hundreds, or even thousands of rays.

When mobula rays gather in a large group like this they are called a “fever”.

The mobula munkiana are listed as vulnerable in the “UCN Red List of Threatened Species.

A grouping of Mobula Munkiana, or Munk rays in Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur
(Photo: Antonio Romero

Mobula Ray Migration and Behaviours

The clear waters of the Gulf of California are home to the biggest aggregation of mobula rays on the planet!

To date, we don’t know a lot about Mobula migration patterns, but there is a great research group right here in Baja studying the movements of this majestic species. The Mobula Conservation Project is based out of La Paz and does a lot of great work learning about the Mobulids of Baja!

We do know that Munk rays are a highly migratory species and travel hundreds of kilometres each year, perhaps due to changing ocean waters with the time of year.

We do know that Munk Mobula rays are a highly migratory species and travel hundreds of kilometres each year, perhaps due to changing ocean waters with the time of year, but that has yet to be properly researched.

A behaviour unique to this species, Munk rays tend to migrate in fevers, though we are not sure why. It could be to protect from predators, or even to encourage courtship!


Another unique behaviour of the Munk rays is the “mating trains”. This occurs as a part of mobula mating rituals and is fascinating to witness!

A group of Munk rays will form a single line, led by a female. Several males will follow and mimic all of her movements – like a game of cat and mouse!

Her movement will be rapid and exhausting so as the game goes on the males will tire and leave the train. The last ray swimming wins – and will mate with the female.

FAQ – the Mobula Rays of Mexico

Can you scuba dive with the Mobula rays in Baja?

Yes and no. It is technically possible to dive with mobula rays, but the rays are afraid of the bubbles so the experience will be short-lived.

It’s possible to be diving in Baja and suddenly have a school of mobula rays show up, but the rays will immediately scatter and avoid you and your bubbles. These lucky moments happen but there are better and more sustainable ways for us to see the mobula rays.

Where to Scuba Dive with Mobula Rays

There is one place in Mexico where you can safely dive with the Mobulas is a night dive off the coast of La Paz.

On this special dive, LED lights are placed on the ocean floor to attract plankton. The mobulas are drawn to the food source and will swoop and dive to eat while you get to sit in wonder!

Can you Snorkel with Mobula Rays in Mexico?

YES – snorkelling is the best way to experience the Munk rays in Mexico.

Etiquette for Snorkelling with Mobula Rays

Here are Dive Into Mexico’s tips for the best snorkelling with mobula rays experience!

  1. Approach from Behind
    • Once you find the fever of rays, slowly approach with the boat behind or next to the fever
  2. Do Not Jump!
    • Mobulas spook easily, so avoid any splashing or large movements.
    • Slowly slide in the water and….boom!… hundreds of rays will be gracefully swimming in front of you.
  3. Stay 3m / 10ft Behind
    • They will become comfortable with your presence if you don’t get too close
  4. Keep Your Fins in the Water
    • Splashing will scare them away
  5. Stay Behind
    • If you are on top of the rays they won’t come to the surface to jump!
  6. Don’t Freedive
    • Trying to get closer to the mobula rays by free diving will push them deeper

Follow these tips to avoid disturbing their natural behaviour, and also to get the best experience! If you allow the mobulas to behave naturally they will be jumping around right in front of you. It’s a magical time!

Are Mobula Rays Dangerous?

No! Mobulas are totally harmless. They are not aggressive and are very shy.

Do Mobula Rays have a Stinger?

No – Most mobulas and mantas don’t have a spine on their tale. Some have an embedded, which means it doesn’t have barbs on the outside.

The only mobula species with a “free” spine is the Spine-Tail Mobula (mobula mobular).

Why do Mobula rays jump?

We don’t know!

Mobula rays are known for their high and acrobatic jumps, they can jump as high as 2m/6ft out of the water! This is fun to see and what makes it easy to find a fever of rays.

There are different theories about this behaviour, but we don’t yet know what propels mobulas out of the water. Some theories are:

  • It’s a way to get rid of parasites
    • As the mobulas shake in the air, then splash their skin against the ocean’s surface it could shake off any unwanted bugs.
  • It’s a form of communication
    • The splash from the mobulas landing on the water creates a booming sound underwater. This could let the fever know where the group is headed or is maybe a mating ritual to attract the attention of a mate with the biggest splash.

Or maybe they just do it because they can and jumping is fun!

DiM Debrief – Mobula Rays of Mexico

Now you know all about the mobula rays of Mexico! Mexico continues to be one of the best places in the world to interact with mobula rays, and is home to the largest aggregations in the world!

Be sure to schedule some time in the spring or summer to experience the mobula phenomenon on Mexico’s pacific coast. Their migration patterns line up with other natural wonders like the Grey Whales of Baja, so you can see it all in one trip!

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