Stingrays: A Species of the Subtropical Seas

Stingrays have numerous outstanding qualities. Their body structure, for example, is one reason they are unique aquatic creatures.

Stingrays, close relatives of the shark, have interesting physical structures and shapes. All stingrays have flat bodies. However, while some appear square with corners at the tips of their fins, others are rounder with disc-shaped bodies.

Sub-species of the stingray have other unique characteristics. For instance, the blue-spotted stingray has distinct colors and spots that broadcast its venomous abilities. Additionally, the banded stingray can camouflage itself and uses its fleshy, flexible tail for defense.

All stingrays use their pectoral fins, or the “wings” fused along the flanks of their bodies, to accelerate. The tail of the stingray steers its acceleration. Some sub-species have a fringe-like tail to improve the efficiency of their movements.

A stingray's tail also provides momentum behind its sting, or long, sharp, and barbed spine. The sting produces potent venom. Some stingrays may have more than one.

Other notable features of this species include its mouth, which is located beneath the body. A stingray uses its mouth to pick up its typical diet of crabs, molluscs, and small fish. Its powerful jaws are lined with rows of flat-topped teeth that can crush shells.

The stingray's great senses also help it capture prey. In fact, stingrays have terrific eyesight and senses of smell. Ocean water is absorbed through the spiracles behind a stingray's eyes where receptors detect the taste of any prey in the area.

Stingrays can weigh as much as 749 pounds, and they typically grow to about 14 feet in length. These creatures usually mate from late summer to early spring and can have as many as 12 babies per birthing interval.

Stingrays may look graceful lying near the bottom of seabeds, but they are very powerful and can be dangerous. If you are ever near one, watch out!

[Source: The Encyclopedia of Animals]