Rays, Batoidea, are a group of elasmobranchs, which are a class of cartilaginous fish that also includes sharks. They are characterized by their flat, disc-like body and long, venomous tail, which is tipped with a sharp, serrated spine. Rays have a wingspan of up to 7 meters (23 feet) and are usually found in shallow, coastal waters, although some species are known to occur in deeper waters.
Stingrays are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world, including the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They are usually found in shallow, coastal waters, where they can be found swimming near the bottom or hovering just above it. They are often found in sandy or muddy areas, where they can use their flat body and pectoral fins to bury themselves in the sand and hide from predators.
Rays are opportunistic feeders and will eat a variety of prey depending on what is available. They feed on small fish, invertebrates such as crabs and shrimp, and other marine animals, which they locate using their sensitive barbels (whisker-like structures) on their head. They use their strong, powerful jaws to crush their prey and their tooth-like scales to grind it up.
Stingrays are generally non-aggressive and do not pose a threat to humans, although they may defend themselves if they feel threatened. They are known for their ability to blend in with their surroundings and are often difficult to spot in the sand or mud.
Batoidea is a diverse group of elasmobranchs, with more than 500 species in 13 families. Some of the families within Batoidea include:
- Dasyatidae (stingrays, whiptail rays, and other rays)
- Myliobatidae (eagle rays, manta rays, and other rays)
- Mobulidae (manta rays)
- Rhinopteridae (cownose rays)
- Rajidae (skates)
- Pristidae (sawfishes)
They are a diverse group of rays, with a wide range of sizes and shapes. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified some species of rays as threatened or vulnerable due to overfishing, habitat loss, and other human activities.