On Exhibit: Open Sea
small pelagic fishes, squid, jellies, shrimp
36 inches (1 m) maximum disc width
round stingrays, diamond stingrays; Family: Dasyatididae
warm-temperate and tropical seas, deep ocean and inshore open bays
Unlike other rays, which spend most of their time buried on the sandy seafloor, pelagic stingrays spend their time in open waters. They are distinguished by their diamond-shaped bodies with rounded snouts and streamlined eyes that don't protrude from their bodies. Pelagic rays are dark purplish above and purplish to gray underneath. This coloration makes the rays harder for predators to see from above, as their dark backs blend with dark waters below, making these rays almost "disappear" from view.
Pelagic rays are captured as bycatch on pelagic longlinesor driftnets.
To pelagic rays, sea turtles and other animals that eat jellies, drifting plastic bags look like their natural prey. This can be a deadly mistake. Animals can choke as they try to swallow the bags, or slowly starve as the plastic clogs their stomachs. You can help save rays just by picking up plastic bags at the beach and making sure trash is disposed of far from the ocean.
You'll find the rays' venom glands in paired grooves running the length of their barbed poison spines. Their sting—which is extremely painful—is usually not fatal.
Often seen feeding upside down, rays have many small, very sharp teeth for grasping pelagic prey. Sometimes pelagic rays use their pectoral fins to envelope and manipulate food into their mouths.