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What is a Sea Devil?

Alex Tree
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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The term sea devil is often used in reference to the manta ray, a large species of jawed fish that is related to the shark. Sea devils are the largest species of ray, capable of weighing more than 5,000 pounds (about 2270 kg) and growing longer than 25 feet (7.5 m) across. These fish eat as they swim, catching larva, plankton, and other small prey in their gills, and they are found around the world in tropical waters. A sea devil is normally not kept in captivity due to its extraordinary size, but some of the largest aquariums in the world occasionally keep them after the fish are accidentally caught. The term sea devil also occasionally refers to the family of rays in which the manta ray belongs, known as eagle rays.

Sea devils in general, including other members of the eagle fish family, are normally quite large, but some can be little more than 1 foot (0.3 m) long. These fish appear relatively flat with long wings and a slender tail with a length that depends on the species. The color of their bodies also depends on the species; some are a mostly solid gray, while others are spotted or sport other patterns.

A sea devil from the eagle fish family can give birth to up to six babies. Some species typically deliver very few. For example, the manta ray gives birth to one young at a time. In the ocean, both young and adult sea devils are vulnerable to attacks by sharks of similar or greater size.

While rarely found in captivity, there have been a few instances of these fish being housed in aquariums. In at least one case, a sea devil was accidentally captured in a shark net, and this led to it being transferred to an aquarium. One sea devil has been born in captivity at least once, though this is a very rare occurrence due to the very low number of sea devils that are in aquariums. There is a limited number of aquariums that can even support a sea devil due to their extreme size.

Little is known about the locations that some species inhabit, but sea devils of most species are known to frequent warm waters and coral reef areas. These fish are sometimes seen by divers, often around coral reefs, and are typically indifferent to humans and not aggressive. Due to their slow breeding habits, the sea devil is believed by some organizations to be threatened as a species.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a Sea Devil?

A Sea Devil refers to a species of deep-sea fish known for its distinctive appearance and predatory behavior. The most famous are anglerfish, which have a bioluminescent lure on their heads to attract prey in the dark ocean depths. They exhibit extreme sexual dimorphism, with females being significantly larger than males.

How does the Sea Devil's bioluminescent lure work?

The Sea Devil's bioluminescent lure is a result of a symbiotic relationship with bioluminescent bacteria. These bacteria reside in the esca, the fleshy growth at the end of the fish's illicium, a modified dorsal spine. The light produced by these bacteria helps to attract prey in the pitch-black environment of the deep sea.

Where can Sea Devils be found in the ocean?

Sea Devils are typically found in the twilight zone of the ocean, at depths ranging from 200 to 2,000 meters. They inhabit the vast, dark regions of the world's oceans, with some species residing in specific areas like the Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans, depending on the species.

What do Sea Devils eat?

Sea Devils are carnivorous and use their bioluminescent lure to attract a variety of prey, including fish and crustaceans. Once an unsuspecting victim is drawn close enough, the Sea Devil will snap its jaws shut in a rapid motion, consuming the prey whole with its large mouth and sharp teeth.

How do Sea Devils reproduce?

Sea Devils have a unique reproductive strategy known as sexual parasitism. The much smaller male attaches himself to the female, eventually fusing with her body and sharing her bloodstream. The male provides sperm, while the female sustains the male, who loses his digestive organs after attachment.

Are Sea Devils endangered?

While specific data on Sea Devil populations is limited due to their deep-sea habitat, they are not currently classified as endangered. However, deep-sea species face threats from habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change, which could impact their numbers and conservation status in the future.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and AllThingsNature contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.

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Alex Tree

Alex Tree

Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and AllThingsNature contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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