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Summary

The presence of the giant devil ray (Mobula mobular) in the Adriatic Sea was evaluated based on new records collected through field research, information from interviews with fisherman and marine biology experts, and a review of existing data from the literature and Internet sources. Presented are 14 new records of 20 individual giant devil rays collected between 2008 and 2011, doubling the number of animals recorded in the Adriatic in the previous 125 years. In total, 28 records of 42 giant devil rays exist for the Adriatic to date. The cryptic life history of the species, its pelagic distribution and lack of systematic data collection have resulted in a low number of historical records. The results suggest that the species is not as rare as previously considered. Occurring mainly in the central and southern Adriatic Sea from early spring to early autumn, its appearance coincides with the general increase in local prey abundance. Interaction with fisheries is identified as a source of potential mortality, and the monitoring of multi-gear schemes should be carried out at the regional level. Further research on the distribution and abundance of the giant devil ray is crucial for the elaboration of any effective conservation strategy for this endangered species.