While I worked at the #BiminiBiologicalFieldStation (@BiminiSharkLab) in 2012, we were out hunting for stingrays for a project Doc Gruber was starting. We were looking for southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana) but this little guy was too cute to pass up. I mean, if he fit in my hand, he was small.
(Picture credit for ray)
(Picture credit for map)
So, basically cute on cute on cute.
That's not cute.
The dorsal side also sports a venomous spine, like most rays. And, as you've guessed it, that spine can deliver a really painful stab if you piss it off.
So, don't. Or, at least, try not to.
(Picture credit: Cathleen Bester/FLMNH Zooarchaeology Collection)
A. Opened mouth of female, B. Front upper teeth (above line) and rear upper teeth (below line) of female, C. Side view of upper tooth of female, D. Upper teeth of mature male, E. Side view of one tooth of same. (Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, 1948)
They do not have flattened plates like the other two rays, but individual teeth (around 30 for both jaws) that are closely arranged. Females and males have different teeth, which may allow for males to get a better grip on females during copulation.
To date no study has examined age, growth and feeding habits of U. jamaicensis. It is hypothesized they raise their snout to provide a sort of hiding place for prey, attracting little things to crunch on (worms, crabs or small fish) and not have to actively seek them out all the time.
Lazy rays. Clever, but lazy.
If you live in its home range, keep an eye for these cute little guys during your snorkels/dives. They're a treat to watch swim around.
One last quick note: just because they’re already flat sea-pancakes, doesn't mean you should squish them in your hands! Anymore smushing will harm their internal organs—so if it struggles in your hands, don’t clamp down but let them swim free.
Swim free, stingray!