13 Different Types Of Rays, Each Illustrated Here.
The subclass of cartilaginous fish that contains sharks also contains rays, which are also known as stingrays. Their skeletons, similar to those of sharks, are composed of cartilage rather than bone.
Their skin is also covered in tiny teeth that interlock with one another and are known as denticles, the same way that sharks’ skin is.
Many also have adaptations that look like straws and are known as spiracles. These allow them to breathe without relying on buccal ventilation, also known as ram ventilation.
This indicates that similar to species of benthic sharks, they can maintain their breathing even when motionless in the water.
There are many distinct species of rays; however, which of these are the most likely to be encountered when you go scuba diving or snorkeling?
How Many Different Kinds Of Rays Are There In The Universe?
Roughly 630 distinct species of rays and skates can be found in the world’s oceans.
Although they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, all of these fish have a flattened body and can “fly” through the water by moving their pectoral fins in a wing-like motion.
Because of these similarities, it can be challenging to tell the difference between a ray and a skate unless you get sufficiently close to count the number of lobes on their pelvic fins or watch them give birth.
In general, rays are more substantial than skates and have a slight hipster vibe.
Without further ado, let’s look at some of the more common species of rays and discuss the environments in which you will most probably encounter these graceful sea dancers.
What Are The Common Rays Out There In Sea?
There are many kinds of rays, such as butterfly, electric, manta, sawfish, and electric stingrays. The Thornback Ray is probably the species that is seen the most frequently.
Since it is frequently referred to as a Starry, Thornback, or Maiden ray, the Raja clavata is a species of cool water skate that is a member of the Rajidae family. This means that it is not at all a ray.
The most infamous of the true rays is the short-tail stingray, which became a household name after the untimely passing of the Australian conservationist Steve Irwin in 2006.
Other common types of common rays include the Southern Stingray, the Spotted Eagle Ray, the Reef Manta Ray, the Oceanic Manta Ray, and the Reef Manta Ray.
1). Oceanic Manta Ray
I had the wonderful opportunity to go scuba diving with these graceful creatures while on vacation in Tofo, Mozambique, a few years ago, and I can attest to their beauty and elegance having had that experience.
Their wingspans can reach up to 29 feet widths, which is why they are also known as Giant Manta rays. Even though they weigh more than two and a half tons each, the largest specimens are said to move through the water like “graceful dancers.”
The Oceanic Manta ray, like some of our other marine giants, such as the whale shark and the blue whale, exists solely on plankton, which is one of the Ocean’s tiniest inhabitants.
Oceanic manta rays can filter feed while swimming, thanks to specialized flaps on their heads. These flaps help direct more water and food into the manta rays’ enormous mouths.
Despite their intimidating size, manta rays found in the Ocean are peaceful animals that are incapable of even consuming fish, let alone humans.
The giant manta ray, found in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide, reaches maturity between the ages of eight and ten years and has a life expectancy of between fifty and one hundred years.
2). Reef Manta Ray
The Reef Manta ray is smaller than its relative, the Giant Manta ray, but it is still one of the biggest or largest rays in the world.
Its width can range anywhere from 9 to 11.5 feet on average. This species of manta ray is more commonly found close to reefs, islands, and coastal environments than in the deeper waters frequented by young Giant manta rays.
This makes it easy to confuse this species with juvenile Oceanic manta rays. The Reef Manta ray is also more settled in its lifestyle compared to the nomadic Oceanic Manta ray.
They pay frequent and often extended visits to the cleaning stations that are most convenient for them, which are inhabited by smaller fish that remove parasites and other debris from their skin.
Very few species are either large enough or fast enough to hunt the Reef Manta ray, which can travel up to 15 miles per hour (24 kilometers).
An orca or a tiger shark may try to attack, but their attempts are not always successful, and the majority of the time, the victim will suffer injuries rather than die.
The threat posed by overfishing is significantly greater than any other, and as a result, the population of Reef Manta rays has significantly shrunk, making them extremely susceptible to extinction.
3). Electric Rays
There are approximately sixty different species of electric rays, with the marbled electric ray being the one that will most probably be encountered more frequently.
They are slow-moving creatures that spend most of their time hiding on the seafloor, which is why they are sometimes referred to as torpedo fish. It then ambushes its prey from its hiding place, stunning it with powerful electric shocks before devouring it.
Electric rays aren’t typically hostile toward humans, but they may unleash electrical surges of up to 200 volts to defend themselves if they feel threatened.
An electric shock of this magnitude, while not sufficient to kill a human, can still cause significant bodily harm. The female Atlantic Torpedo ray can grow to be more than 1 meter long, making it the largest species of electric ray.
This species actively pursues its food, primarily going after dogfish and smaller sharks, which it brings to the ground using the electric organs on its head’s side.
4). Spotted Eagle Ray (Eagle Ray)
Species of the mon ray are also one of the longest, measuring more than 16 feet in length.
It can dig up prey that it locates using electrical and magnetic pulses thanks to the thick head and long snout that it possesses.
The distinctive Spotted Eagle ray, covered in white spots, can be found inhabiting coral reefs and coastal environments worldwide. They could jump as high as 6 feet out of the water and are typically found close to the water’s surface.
According to experts, their aerial maneuvers are typically performed for one of three reasons: to avoid potential danger, to rid themselves of parasites, or as a form of social interaction.
They move so quickly, combined with their size, making them potentially hazardous.
A Spotted Eagle Ray once “flew out of the water and struck her face,” causing the death of a woman in the state of Michigan in the year 2008. The impact was fatal for the ray as well.
5). Devil Rays
There are approximately nine different species of devil rays, with the Giant Devil ray being the largest.
The Giant Devil ray has a maximum width of up to 5 meters (16 feet), and it is most commonly found in the deep waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The smallest member of its species, the Devil ray, can be seen in this illustration.
It is commonly referred to as the Munk’s Devil ray and has an average wingspan of only about 3 feet. It is known for taking to the air frequently and leaping up to 10 feet out of the water.
The marine ecologist who first explained or described the species in 1987, Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, claims that the Munk is the only species of ray that engages in “spectacular” aerial displays while in large groups.
It is believed that these leaps may be a form of social interaction or courtship among the individuals that make up these groups, including tens of thousands of people.
In this regard, the Devil ray and other elasmobranchs are quite comparable to one another. For instance, breaching is considered a “form of reproductive, social interaction” in basking sharks.
6). Southern Stingray (Stingray)
The Southern Stingray is perhaps one of the most widespread whiptail stingray species.
It could be found in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and it has a long tail covered in sharp spines that it uses to defend itself from potential enemies.
The Southern Stingray is an opportunistic feeder, meaning it will eat almost anything if given a chance.
In general, bony fish and crustaceans make up the majority of its diet. They do most of their prey-hunting at night but are perfectly content to graze during the day.
Because the Southern Stingray is so motivated by its desire for food, it has become tame enough to be fed by hand in certain locations, such as the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos.
7). Blue Spotted Ribbontail Stingray
In terms of hunting and gathering food, this distinct species of stingray uses a strategy not dissimilar to that of the Spotted Eagle Ray.
It relies on electroreception to locate its prey. It consumes the small fish and crustaceans it discovers on coral reefs or in habitats along the coast with shallow waters and sandy bottoms.
The Blue-spotted Ribbontail is a shy creature that approaches humans only very infrequently. However, to protect itself, it will use the poisonous spines that are located in its tail.
If one were to step on one of these spines by accident, they would cause severe pain, damage to the surrounding tissue, and bleeding.
The Blue Spotted Ribbontail does not have any teeth; instead, it relies on two crushing plates to pulverize the meat of whatever it catches.
8). Butterfly Ray
There are 12 distinct species of butterfly rays, with the Spiny or Giant Butterfly ray being the largest.
The Spiny Butterfly ray, which has a wing span of more than 6 feet, is most comfortable in brackish water located close to the coast.
It can ambush its prey, consisting of crustaceans, small fish, and mollusks, by disguising itself in the sand and waiting in an ambush there.
The following are some of the other species of butterfly ray:
- Australian Butterfly Ray
- California Butterfly Ray
- Longtail Butterfly Ray
- Japanese Butterfly Ray
- Longsnout Butterfly Ray
- Smooth Butterfly Ray
- Tentacled Butterfly Ray
- Zonetail Butterfly Ray.
In contrast to the Blue Spotted Ribbontail Ray, these rays can have up to 200 teeth that resemble those of sharks.
Even though they are primarily employed for eating, the males of certain species develop teeth that are both more pointed and sharper during the breeding season. This allows them to maintain a more secure grip on their partners.
9). Deepwater Stingray
This species of stingray is found at depths greater than 700 meters (2,200 feet), and it hunts both on the seafloor and in open water.
Its primary habitat is in the waters off the coasts of Mozambique, South Africa, and Australia, where it hunts bony fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods for food. The Deepwater Sting Ray is one of the largest species of stingrays in the world.
The Deepwater Stingray can grow to lengths of up to 8.9 feet and widths of almost 5 feet, making it the only member of the family Plesiobatidae. It is also known as the giant stingaree.
10). Short-tail Stingray (Stingray)
A common species of stingray, the Short-tail can be found in the waters off the coast of South Africa and in coastal habitats close to New Zealand and Australia.
Even though it does not typically behave aggressively, the long, poisonous sting it can deliver makes it capable of inflicting a wound that could prove fatal.
Steve Irwin, a conservationist and television personality passed away in 2006 in Queensland after being involved in a fatal encounter with a short-tail stingray.
This particular species of stingray react to danger by wrapping its tail around its back like a scorpion. It is preyed upon by various shark species, the most notable of which are the hammerhead and the great white.
11). Yellow Stingray
The Urobatis jamaicensis, like the majority of other species of stingray, hunts for food in sandy and muddy areas of shallow coastal waters.
The yellow stingray can avoid being seen by potential enemies and keep a low profile to better stalk its prey when it buries itself in the sand.
Although this small stingray is only about 26 inches long and is not considered dangerous, stepping on its venomous tail spines can cause a nasty injury.
The Yellow Stingray is a type of Round ray that can be easily recognized due to its circular body shape and the fact that it is frequently found off the coast of Florida.
There are approximately 30 different species of round rays, and everyone feeds on the seafloor or close to it.
Stingrays of the yellow species use their bodies to attract potential prey. Due to the way, it arches its back, stingrays can create a cave-like shelter between their bodies and the seafloor.
When an unsuspecting fish seeks shelter there, it swims close to the stingray’s mouth, providing this rather sluggish creature with an easy meal. Stingrays are found in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide.
12). Sixgill Stingray
It is possible to tell the Sixgill stingray apart from many other species of stingray, thanks to its lengthy and fleshy snout.
Additionally, it is the only stingray species with six individual gill openings as opposed to the more common five. The animal uses the long snout of the Sixgill stingray, adapted to living in water between 1,000 and 3,600 feet deep, to locate and uncover its prey.
There is very little information available about the Sixgill stingray; however, researchers believe that they may have electroreceptors in their noses, which they use to locate their prey. After that, it employs the same dexterous snout to unearth its food.
Sixgill stingrays are not considered a threat to humans because they prefer deep-sea environments, which means that they occasionally come into contact with people.
13). Bat Ray
It is common for this graceful species of eagle ray to be found in the shallow waters near shore, where it hovers over the sandy sea floor and uses its pectoral fins to search for small fish and crustaceans.
When searching for food, they are capable of digging holes that are nearly eight inches deep. The bat ray is another kind of stingray, and its tail can have anywhere from one to three poisonous spines on it.
It is euryhaline, just like the bull shark, which means it can live in a wider range of salinities than most stingrays. This is what separates it from the majority of stingrays.
Rays come in various species, each of which has developed unique dietary and environmental preferences throughout its evolution.
Some hide by camouflaging themselves on the seafloor, while others actively hunt for their prey by swimming at high speeds.
Electric rays and stingrays are both capable of causing harm, but electric rays are more likely to be aggressive than hostile. Stingrays, on the other hand, are more likely to attack.
On the other hand, a jolt from an electric ray could easily knock you off your feet, and a stingray’s barb would leave you with a painful injury.
Since there have been a few unfortunate incidents in which rays have killed humans, these deaths are extremely uncommon.
Questions People Also Ask: (FAQs)
I am sure you will agree when I say that rays are fascinating animals. They have endured for millions of years by changing and adapting to guarantee their continued existence. Fascinating information about these strange animals can be found in the following facts.
What Sets the Manta Ray Apart from the Other Rays, Like the Sting Ray?
The bodies of stingrays and manta rays are both flat, and their pectoral fins are broad. Despite their size advantage, manta rays are not nearly as dangerous as stingrays, which have poisonous barbs on the ends of their tails.
How Many Years Do Stingrays Typically Live?
The life expectancy of manta rays is significantly greater than that of stingrays, yet another distinction between the two species.
Manta rays have been known to live for as long as 40 or even 50 years, which is a significant difference from the lifespan of stingrays, which can be between 15 and 25 years.
Do You Ever See a Stingray Jump?
Some species of stingray and other species of ray, including the Devil ray, are known to be able or capable of jumping out of the water.
It is unknown why stingrays take to the air. Still, experts speculate that it may be to rid themselves of parasites, communicate with one another, or protect themselves from being eaten.
Which species of stingray pose the greatest threat to humans?
The barbs found in the tails of all stingrays are poisonous and have the potential to cause severe or even fatal injuries.
Most stingray injuries are caused when a human inadvertently steps on a stingray, prompting the stingray to defend itself by using its barb-covered tail.
In extremely unusual cases, such as the one with the conservationist and TV personality Steve Irwin, a stingray may exhibit an aggressive response by lashing out with its barb-covered tail at a perceived threat.
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