Southern Stingray, Dasyatis americana, Stingrays

 Good morning friends, I found a buried Southern Stingray yesterday out on our Substation reef at 85 feet and stayed as long as I could to watch. I have found that if you  are very calm and very quiet you can get very close to these animals while buried in the sand, I think it is because they think you can’t see them. When I find rays that are not buried they are much more scared and immediately swim off when they see you. The southern stingray, Dasyatis americana, is a stingray of the family Dasyatidae (the Whiptail Stingrays) found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Brazil. It has a flat, diamond-shaped disc, with a mud brown, olive, and grey dorsal surface and white underbelly (ventral surface). The barb on its tail is serrated and covered in a venomous mucous, used for self-defense. The southern stingray is adapted for life on the sea bed. The flattened, diamond-shaped body has sharp corners, making it more angular than the discs of other rays. The top of the body varies between olive brown and green in adults, dark grey in juveniles, while the underside is predominantly white. The wing-like pectoral fins are used to propel the stingray across the ocean bottom, while the slender tail possesses a long, serrated and poisonous spine at the base, used for defence. These spines are not fatal to humans, but are incredibly painful if stepped on. The eyes are situated on top of the head of the southern stingray, along with small openings called spiracles. The location of the spiracles enables the stingray to take in water while lying on the seabed, or when partially buried in sediment. Water enters the spiracles and leaves through the gill openings, bypassing the mouth which is on the underside. Female stingrays can grow to a disc width of 150 cm, contrary to the smaller male stingrays that reach maximum size at 67 cm. The southern stingray is an opportunistic forager, feeding on small crustaceans, such as alphaeid, penaeid and callianasid shrimp and brachyuran crabs, mollusks, bony fish, and lancelets. It feeds by flapping the wing-like pectoral fins and expelling water to disturb the sand and expose the prey. This bottom-dwelling species is often found singly or in pairs, and can reach population densities estimated up to 245 per km2 in certain shallow systems thought to be nursery grounds. I am off to do a dive with our submersible, have a great day out there!! Curacao regards, Barry MORE: Southern Stingray, Dasyatis americana, Stingrays

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