The Southern Stingray (Dasyatis americana) is a cartilaginous fish (fish without bones, like a shark). Instead of a bony skeleton, it has cartilage, which is the same substance as the human nose and human ears.
The Southern Stingray has a thin, flat body, like a diamond-shaped disc (or kite-shaped), that can be brown, olive-green-brown, or grey. It has a white underbelly, where its small mouth is located. It has a long, tapering tail with two dorsal fins and venomous serrated (saw-like) barbs. Its bulging eyes are on the top of its head, close together. It has five pairs of small gills which enable it to breath underwater.
It can measure up to 150 centimetres (59 inches) long.
The wing-like pectoral fins are used for locomotion.
The Southern Stingray is native to the Western Atlantic Ocean along the North American and South American coastlines. It prefers shallow tropical and sub-tropical marine waters (saltwater). It is a bottom-dwelling feeder.
It is nocturnal, active at night.
It eats small fish, crabs, molluscs, and shellfish. It lays hidden in the soil on the bottom of the ocean, and leaps out of the sand to catch its prey. To avoid predators, it buries itself in the soil.
The Southern Stingray is solitary or seen in pairs. It is ovoviparous, which means that its eggs hatch inside the mother’s body and she gives birth to live young. She is pregnant for 135-226 days, before giving birth to 2-10 live young.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM