A gentle “flying” fish
Stingrays might look like a living water-Frisbee, but they are, in fact, fish! They are related to sharks, and just like sharks, have a skeleton made of cartilage (like your ears). Their wide, flat bodies either use a wave motion to move through the water, or they flap the sides of their bodies like wings. Many stingrays look like they’re “flying” under water!
Stingrays do have poisonous barbs and stingers, but are very gentle creatures and rarely attack unless they feel directly threatened or in immediate danger. They would much rather hide from predators, like killer whales, by “shoveling” their bodies just beneath the sand of the ocean. And, since many of them have brown or mottled-colored skin, they blend right in to the ocean floor.
Stingrays love to eat all sorts of shellfish, like clams, mussels and oysters, as well as shrimp and crab. They have very strong jaws made of several layers of cartilage, and their teeth are packed tight into many rows, perfect for crunching up their dinner.
Female stingrays give birth just once a year. Baby stingrays grow inside an egg inside their mother (stingrays are “ovoviviparous”), and then are born when they are fully developed. From birth, they are completely able to fend for themselves.
- Stingrays are masters of camouflage, often hiding their bodies nearly invisibly in the sand.
- Stingrays are born looking like full-grown stingrays (no “pup” stage here!), just smaller.
- Stingrays are mostly solitary, but some live in groups called “schools”
- Stingrays belong to a group of fish called elasmobranchs. There are nearly 200 stingray species in total.
- Stingray fossils date back nearly 150 million years, but they are hard to find due to their lack of bones.
- In ancient Greece, stingray venom was used as an anesthetic by dentists.