The Flying Mobulas of the Sea of Cortez

Flying mobula! Found via the always wonderful BoingBoing is this set of photographs of The Flying Mobulas of the Sea of Cortez. Mobulas (Mobula mobular) and Mantas (Manta birostris) are related (a manta’s mouth is terminal, i.e. located at the front of the head, while a mobula’s mouth is subterminal, i.e. underneath the head). Michael Albert, the photographer who took this amazing set of pictures, discusses some of the theories (or more like hunches) that have been proposed to explain why they leave the water and take to the air. Is it a feeding behavior? An attempt to dislodge parasite-cleaning remoras? A form of play? An accident because they can’t tell where the surface is?

It has me wondering the following: if we have amphibians which are at home in both water and on the land, and if there are creatures which live in both the water and in the air, do we know of the existence of any three-phase creatures, which are equally at home on land, in the air, and under water? Flying Dragons and Wallace’s Flying Frog may be temporarily airborne amphibians, and but I’m looking for a creature which spends a substantial portion of its life cycle in each of the three environments.

Flying Penguins don’t count.

[tags]amphibians, photography, fish biology[/tags]

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