Spotted Eagle Rays are one of the most majestic animals of the sea. Their large triangular pectoral fins resemble the wings of a bird in flight, making the rays look as if they are serenely flying through the ocean. Their prominent head also has the appearance of a bird; the long, pointed and slightly upturned snout looks like the bill of a duck. The tail, which has barbs, is much longer than that of other rays and can measure up to 5 meters. Spotted Eagle Rays have two to six venomous spines on their tail, but the rays are not considered a threat to humans because they are shy and avoid contact.
|STATUS||Near Threatened (NT)|
|SCIENTIFIC NAME||Aetobatus narinari|
|SIZE||2.5 meters without tail. Wingspan 3 meters.|
|HABITAT||Shallow coastal waters such as coral reefs, bays, estuaries.|
|DIET||Primarily bivalves (clams and oysters).|
Spotted Eagle Rays have an unusual tactic to find prey; they dig in the sand and mud with their snout to find bivalves such as clams and oysters. They then crush the hard-shelled prey with their flat plates of teeth. They do occasionally also eat shrimp, crab, octopus, marine worms and small bony fish. Spotted Eagle Rays migrate in search of food, travelling in large schools in the open ocean, but they often return to their preferred site after; some do not migrate at all and stay within the same area throughout their lifetime. Spotted Eagle Rays are known to “porpoise”, that is leap out of the water. Scientists are unsure of their reason for doing this; it may be a form of communication or to get rid of parasites.
Image by B.S. and R.D. Kirkby