Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cownose Rays

By B
Last weekend I went to Lowry Park Zoo. I loved it! My favorite part was the ray tank. They were very friendly rays. I spent hours there and named most of them. Today I will tell you about cownose rays.

Cownose rays at Lowry Park Zoo

They are smaller than southern stingrays and have shorter, skinnier tails. They have barbs, but you probably won't step on a cownose ray because they usually swim in the middle of the water, and don't sit on the bottom.

They like to eat oysters and crabs and small fish, and other things that burrow in the sand. They can flap the sand with their wings and then suck up the food like a vacuum cleaner. They have crushing plates in their mouths instead of regular teeth.

I named this cownose ray Albus. Can you guess what movies I'm watching?
Cownose rays have one baby at a time. They don't lay an egg – the baby is born alive. They are big when they are born, about a foot across. (Lu notes: The babies actually develop in an egg within the mother's body, then hatch inside her, and are born later. So they are ovoviviparous, which is a great word to toss out now and then.)

The cownose rays at Lowry Park Zoo were very gentle and friendly. I loved to touch them. They are sleek and soft. I can't wait to go back!

Next time I'll tell you about southern stingrays!

Bye bye until next time!

Lu's Note:
Cownose ray numbers have increased lately, but they are still classified as threatened, or more specifically, vulnerable, mainly because they take a long time to mature, and then usually only have one baby at a time. They are probably increasing because their main predators – sharks – have been overfished. Some people are worried about the cownose ray population because they feed extensively on oysters, a commercial shellfish whose populations are already in decline because of pollution, disease and habitat loss. So do we get rid of cownose rays? Of course not, silly! We stop catching and killing sharks!

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