Stingray | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Stingray

With their flat bodies and long spiny tails, stingrays look like creatures from another world. These marine vertebrates are actually quite common and are found in the warm and shallow waters of tropical and subtropical regions of the world, as well as in freshwater lakes and rivers.

Fact number one.

4Stingrays are predators. Stingrays are purely carnivorous; they prey on animals that live on or under the sand. A study examining a reconstruction of the diet of southern Caribbean stingrays found that stingrays eat mostly crustaceans, ray-finned fish and worms. An additional study showed that the species consumed at least 65 different types of prey — up to 30 each day.

Fact number two.

Stingrays move by flapping their wings. Stingrays may look like they are flying through the water, but a closer look reveals a graceful flapping motion that propels them through the water. Most species wriggle their bodies to move from place to place, moving like an underwater wave, but others tend to flap their sides up and down like wings. Research by the Save Our Seas Foundation has shown that stingrays in South Africa move at 1.35 kilometers per hour (0.83 miles per hour), and some species migrate up to 850 kilometers (528 miles).

Fact number three.

Stingrays are closely related to sharks. They may not have sharp teeth, but stingrays still bear some resemblance to sharks . The two species are part of the same group of cartilaginous fish (this means that their skeletons are supported by cartilage, not bones) and have the same skin. They also use the same amps of Lorenzini sensors, which are special sensory organs that pick up electrical signals emitted by prey.

Fact number four.

Stingray cubs are born fully developed. Babies, called pups, can swim and eat immediately after birth, and most species require no parental care at all. Scientists are just beginning to understand how being trapped (even accidentally) can cause stingrays to give birth prematurely. In a study published in the journal Biological Conservation, about 85% of blue stingrays lost their offspring after capture.

Fact number five.

Female stingrays are larger than males. Not only do females reach sexual maturity faster than males, but they tend to live longer. In round stingrays, especially the fast-growing species, females and males reach 58% and 70% of their full size, respectively, during their first year of life. Females live an average of 15-22 years, while males live only 5-7 years.

Fact number six.

Stingrays are poisonous. We all remember when beloved TV host and wildlife advocate Steve Irwin was fatally stabbed in the heart by a stingray in 2006. Stingrays have long, thin tails with one to three venomous serrations attached, and the bite usually causes severe pain and risk of infection at the wound site. According to the National Capital Poison Control Center, between 1,500 and 2,000 stingray injuries are reported each year in the United States, and most of them occur on the legs or feet.

Fact number seven.

Stingrays sleep in the sand. While resting, stingrays bury their bodies in the sand, leaving protruding protective spikes to protect themselves while they sleep. This can be problematic in areas where people enter the water, so it is recommended that beach goers do a «stingray shuffle» to cause the sand to vibrate and alert stingrays to their presence.

Fact number eight.

Some stingray species chew their food. Biologists at the University of Toronto have filmed freshwater stingrays chewing on soft fish, shrimp and hard shell dragonfly larvae. The findings suggest that both mammals and stingrays have developed similar digestive methods independently of each other. Previously, it was thought that mammals were the only animals that chewed food.

Fact number nine.

Stingrays lived at the same time as dinosaurs. In 2019, a team from the Institute of Paleontology at the University of Vienna discovered a fossil stingray more than 50 million years old. The study provided new links to radiation from the effects of the Cretaceous mass extinction. Further molecular data showed that modern stingrays separated from their sister group in the Late Jurassic, about 150 million years ago.

Fact number ten.

Stingrays can detect magnetic fields. Scientists conducted tests on yellow stingrays in 2020 to prove that animals can use the Earth’s magnetic field to maintain a sense of direction when navigating the environment. They found evidence that stingrays can detect not only changes in the geomagnetic field, but also that they can use that field to their advantage by navigating and maintaining a course while navigating.

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