Wednesday 10 February 2016

Spotted Eagle Ray

Wow, what a pattern!

Well, I know what my next duvet cover's going to look like.

Image: john norton
These beautiful rays are clearly named after the lovely colouration of their dorsal surface. Sometimes it's just simple, white spots. Other times they're white rings, instead. And in some individuals it's a more complex collection of spots, rings and curious, little lines where two spots seem to join up somehow.

The underside is rather less complicated. It's white. Here white, there white, everywhere white, white.

Image: Phil's 1stPix
Spotted Eagle Rays are big, reaching as much as 3 metres (10 ft) across and almost as much in length...

Image: Nemo's great uncle
That doesn't include a long, spindly tail which can more than double their total length.

Careful! That tail is armed with 2 to 6 spines near its base, each one barbed and venomous. They gotta protect those lovely spots somehow!

Spotted Eagle Rays stick near to coasts and coral reefs where their favourite food is things like bivalves and crustaceans. Their bizarre conveyor belt of flat teeth is perfect for crunching through tough shells, so they may as well use them, right?

On the other hand they're not above tucking into something a little more squidgy, like worms and fish.

Video: ocean life

Unlike other Eagle Rays, the Spotted variety will also plunge their snouts into the seabed, tussling with the sand to unearth their prey.

But Spotted Eagle Rays don't just snuffle around on the sea floor, they also like to swim near the surface and even leap out of the sea and... fall back in again. Not quite 'Eagle' enough, it seems. Some rays might also go off on a long-distance swim, and that has allowed Spotted Eagle Rays to spread all over the world. From the Indo-Pacific to both the east and west coasts of Africa and America, if it's hot enough, there's a good chance they'll be there.

Image: Phil's 1stPix
Like other sharks and rays, Spotted Eagle Rays are quite slow when it comes to reproduction. Mothers bear at most 4 pups after about a year-long gestation period, and it takes a good 4 or more years before youngsters can reproduce. Slowpokes.

On the other hand, there may actually be more than one species of Spotted Eagle Ray! They all look very much similar to our eyes (I mean, how could we possibly get past those spots?), but there are certain differences in shape and size which might be enough for the rays themselves to keep to their own populations.

So, with a little research, we might find a whole other way to get ourselves some new Spotted Eagle Rays!


TexWisGirl said...

very stylish, indeed! :)

Unknown said...

Strangely enough, I have a similar pattern on my duvet cover. It shall now be my eagle ray cover.

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: Someone needs to make a nice suit with it!

@Jacob Littlejohn: Sweet! I knew it had to be out there somewhere!