Species Approximately 220
Stingrays are cartilaginous fish that live in temperate and tropical marine and freshwater environments all over the globe. Stingray fish are related to sharks and belong to the order Myliobatiformes. Some animals, such as sharks, have a barb at the end of their tail instead of sharp teeth that may penetrate prospective predators. This barb is poisonous.
Stingrays have a long tail and a flattened body with pectoral fins. Its colour often matches the shade on the ocean bottom, allowing it to blend in and avoid predators like sharks. The stingray’s eyes are on the dorsal (top) side, whereas its mouth, gills, and nose are located on its underbelly. Most cartilaginous fish use their pectoral fins for locomotion. The majority of stingrays swim by waving their bodies, while others flail their fins like wings. Their tail may be used to assist them in swimming.
Stingrays, like sharks, have ampullae of Lorenzini, which are electrical sensors. The stingray’s mouth has these organs, which detect the natural electrical charges that other creatures release. Jaw teeth are also found in several ray species, which they use to crush mollusks like mussels, clams, and oysters.
During reproduction, males pursue females by accompanying them and chewing on their pectoral discs. Stingrays procreate sexually by inserting one of the male’s claspers into the female’s vent. Stingrays are ovoviviparous, meaning they give birth to live young. Each litter has five to thirteen children. The embryos grow without a placenta in the female’s womb; instead, they get the nutrition they need from their yolk sac, while the mother provides uterine milk. The young generally detach from their mother after birth and swim alone, needing zero parental support. There are notable outliers, like the gigantic freshwater stingray (Himantura chaophraya), whose mother cares for her young and swims with them until they reach around one-third of her size.
Stingrays are endangered, and the IUCN has classified numerous species as fragile or threatened. Stingrays face three major threats: habitat loss, overfishing, and climate change. Overfishing is the primary danger, since rays are collected not just for their flesh. However, their gill plates are also used in conventional Chinese medicine.
The Hexatrygondae (six gill stingray) this family has just one species, the six gill stingray, which has six gills. The ray’s triangular snout and gill arches are another identifying characteristic.
Plesiobatidae (deepwater stingray) this family has just one species. The deepwater stingray is often referred to as the huge stingaree. This stingray may be found at depths of almost 2,200 feet (670.5 metres),
Urolophidae (stingarees) are little rays that live in warm water. They may burrow on sandy substrates in shallow water. This family consists of two genera and around 35 species.
Urotrygonidae (round rays)—the circular rays have a round body with no dorsal fins and a slender tail, as the name indicates. They are mostly available in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and along the North and South American shores.
Dasyatidae (whiptail stingrays) Whiptail stingrays are named for their tail, which resembles a whip and bears a lethal barb at its end. The majority of whiptail species live in the sea, although some, like the Southeast Asian giant freshwater stingray, also live in rivers.
River stingrays (Potamotrygonidae) are freshwater stingrays seen in rivers in subtropical and tropical South America.
Rays of the Gymnuridae family (butterfly rays) have a flatter body and a smaller tail than other species of rays, and they may become quite big. Butterfly rays may grow to up to 13 feet (4 metres) in length!
Myliobatidae (eagle rays) Unlike other families of rays, Myliobatidae species are seen swimming in the open ocean’s pelagic zone and are often seen jumping from the water. The common eagle, banded, mottled, and bat eagle rays are all notable species.
Fun Facts about the Stingray!
Stingrays are a diversified species of fish that live in both marine and freshwater environments. The stingray is a cartilaginous fish closely linked to sharks and is most usually seen in warmer waters. Like sharks, they have existed for a very long time and lack a swim bladder. A variety of biological adaptations have enabled stingrays to persist for millions of years. Let’s investigate further!
Even while not all stingrays contain barbs on their tails, the vast majority do, and these barbs are toxic! The barb is lengthy and pointy, with many serrations pointing in the reverse direction, giving it the form of a Christmas tree. The barbs are employed to keep predators at bay.
A venom gland in the barb injects poison into the victim of the stingray. The venom is very strong, including neurotoxins, enzymes, and the neurotransmitter serotonin. It reduces blood circulation as well as inhibits smooth muscle contraction to avoid dilution of the venom.
Stingrays are normally peaceful, timid creatures that will not attack unless provoked. They are, nevertheless, the most prevalent cause of human fish-related damage. While swimming in an area known to get stingrays, people should exercise caution. Although stingray stings are seldom lethal, they may be tremendously painful. When going in shallow seas where these rays live, this may be avoided by shuffling your feet in the sand. This will alert them to your presence, allowing you to avoid treading on them and getting injured by their barb. If you are stung, treat the wound with hot water and seek medical attention right away.
Stingrays Were Alive During The Jurassic
It is believed that stingrays go back over 150 million years to the Jurassic Era, which means they predate dinosaurs! Fortunately, their teeth and scales may fossilise, allowing scientists to determine how long they have existed. However, since their skeletons are made of cartilage, which does not fossilise, finding a full skeleton is unusual. Stingray fossils, particularly fossilised teeth, are frequent, although entire stingray fossils are rare.
Because stingrays lack a swim bladder, they lack an organ that keeps them afloat; without it, they begin to sink. They glide over the water using the flattened form of their bodies and their pectoral fins. Their body structure and the absence of a swim bladder enable them to descend to the ocean bottom and hide in the sand from predators. This aids the stingray’s energy conservation.
Several other fish species, including the stingray’s close cousin, the shark, lack a swim bladder.
Stingrays have Spiracles
Like other fish, stingrays inhale underwater, but they do not take in water via their mouths and expel it using their gills. Stingrays, on the other hand, have spiracles, which are gas exchange apertures. Stingrays use these holes, which are placed behind their eyes, to take in water. The water is then pushed through their gills on the underside of their bodies. Because the stingray does not need to drink water, its mouth is free to consume. The stingray can even breathe when buried in the sand because of its adaptation.