These aren’t technically sharks, but they are chondrichthyes, and rays need love too. That is why this week, I’ve decided to dedicate to rays (as I had a great conversation about eagle rays with one of my friends). According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the cownose ray is listed as "Near Threatened".
(I personally see a small resemblance, but that's just me.)
They are brown/olive/golden in color, and can be as heavy as 20 lbs. Their gills are on their creamy-colored ventral side (the stomach side), like all rays.
Picture credit unknown.
Up in Chesapeake Bay, there seems to be some conflict of interest between oyster farms and these animals, as they are voracious predators and will devastate these oyster beds. The oyster population is already in trouble, with rapid decline due to pollution reducing their habitat, disease and overfishing. The cownose ray’s high predator could further complicate the declining population, and slow any protection efforts.
Although cownose rays are part of this oyster problem, they play an important role in their ecosystem. Therefore, more research should be done before such measures are taken.