A yellow stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis) photographed at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska
A yellow stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis) photographed at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Stingrays

Common Name:
Stingrays
Scientific Name:
Myliobatoidei
Type:
Fish
Diet:
Carnivore
Average Life Span In The Wild:
15 to 25 years
Size:
Up to 6.5 feet
Weight:
Up to 790 pounds

Stingrays are commonly found in the shallow coastal waters of temperate seas. They spend the majority of their time inactive, partially buried in sand, often moving only with the sway of the tide.

Unique Traits

The stingray's coloration commonly reflects the seafloor's shading, camouflaging it from predatory sharks and larger rays. Their flattened bodies are composed of pectoral fins joined to their head and trunk with an infamous tail trailing behind.

While the stingray's eyes peer out from its dorsal side, its mouth, nostrils, and gill slits are situated on its underbelly. Its eyes are therefore not thought by scientists to play a considerable role in hunting. Like its shark relatives, the stingray is outfitted with electrical sensors called ampullae of Lorenzini. Located around the stingray's mouth, these organs sense the natural electrical charges of potential prey. Many rays have jaw teeth to enable them to crush mollusks such as clams, oysters, and mussels.

Swimming

When they are inclined to move, most stingrays swim by undulating their bodies like a wave; others flap their sides like wings. The tail may also be used to maneuver in the water, but its primary purpose is protection.

Barb and Venom

The stingray's spine, or barb, can be ominously fashioned with serrated edges and a sharp point. The underside may produce venom, which can be fatal to humans, and which can remain deadly even after the stingray's death. In Greek mythology, Odysseus, the great king of Ithaca, was killed when his son, Telegonus, struck him using a spear tipped with the spine of a stingray.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Ellen Rierson, National Geographic Your Shot

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