Creature Feature Encyclopedia: Conrichthyes

Southern Stingray

Southern Stingray
Dasyatis americana

Size: to 5 feet across (1.5 m)

Habitat: Warm, sandy and muddy shore bottoms along the ocean coast from New Jersey to Brazil

Most rays are solitary, bottom-dwelling creatures. They hide in the sand during the day, then hunt for squid and other small fish at night. Rays are often colored brown or gray, and blend in with their surroundings. The tails of all rays are long and thin, but some have a poisonous barb protruding from the base. Rays with these special tails are known as stingrays and use their barbs for protection against predators. The rays shown here are southern stingrays. They are swimming in a part of the Caribbean Sea known as "Stingray City," near the island of Grand Cayman. There, the normally solitary rays swim in large groups, and are very active during the daytime. The rays in Stingray City are amazingly gentle as well.

~A Swim through the Sea © 1994

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