A group of adventurous Oman cownose rays has been spotted exploring the shallows of Dubai Marina.
The school of more than a dozen fish was seen near the harbour wall opposite Cayan Tower on Sunday.
Cownose rays, or Rhinoptera bonasus, are found throughout the western Atlantic and Caribbean.
Other populations, including the Oman cownose ray and the Javan cownose ray, are found in areas including the Arabian Gulf and Pacific Ocean and are considered to be separate sub-species.
Heidi Kirolos said she saw the unusual spectacle from the balcony of her 25th-floor apartment in the Trident Grand Residence.
“My husband and I have lived in the Marina for six years and this is the first time we have seen rays up close,” the marketing manager from Egypt said.
“It was amazing because they seemed really curious and playful.
“In the group we filmed there were about 15, but there were actually other smaller groups of rays swimming all throughout the marina.”
Oman cownose rays can grow to be 90 centimetres wide and usually travel in large groups.
By swimming in circles and synchronising their wing flaps they are able to stir up sediment and expose invertebrates on the seabed that they then feed upon.
Speaking to The National, Shamsa Mohammad Al Hameli from the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, said Oman cownose rays were been spotted in Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi over recent years.
“This video shows a relatively small group actually,” she said.
“These are often mistaken for manta rays but they are from a completely different family.
“In UAE waters, we have the Javan cownose ray and the Oman cownose ray.
“On first inspection, I would say this particular group was the Oman variety as they are most commonly seen here.”
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Oman cownose rays are considered “regionally endangered”, in part due to overfishing.
Dubai is no stranger to exotic marine wildlife. In September last year, a two-metre long juvenile whale shark was seen in the harbour near the Bulgari Hotel in Jumeirah.
A short video of the creature – the world’s largest fish species – was posted on social media and quickly went viral. Dolphins and turtles are also relatively common sightings.