Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Southern Stingrays

Southern Stingray

Remember how I went to Lowry Park Zoo a while ago and saw cownose rays? I also saw southern stingrays. There were two gigantic ones, and they had friendly personalities. One was flopping around and ready to play. The other one rocked back and forth in one place and liked being touched. They seemed to like being patted by people, even if we weren't feeding them. After I met them, I read all about southern stingrays.

Southern stingrays are bigger than cownose rays, and have a longer, thicker tail. They have a sharp barb on their tail covered with mild venom. (Don't worry, the ones in the tank didn't have any barbs. They said it doesn't hurt them to have the barb removed.)

Here you can see the difference between southern stingrays and cownose rays.

You're more likely to get stung by a southern sting ray than a cownose ray, because southern stingrays hang out at the bottom of the water, on or under the sand – right where your feet hang out. Sometimes they bury themselves so just their eyes are poking out.

So when you go to the beach, you better do the Stringray Shuffle. Don't pick your feet up, but slide them along the sand. The rays will either hear you coming and scoot, or you'll nudge them on the bottom, out of the way of the tail.

They can get huge – more than five feet across! Girl southern stingrays are bigger than boys. They are also ovoviviparous. (Remember that cool word?)

Next time I'll tell you about my favorite ray – a yellow stingray named spot!