The Common Stingray (Dasyatis pastinaca) is a marine (saltwater) cartilaginous 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 Common Stingray is thin, flat, and diamond-shaped, but slightly wider than long (like a kite). It is pale-grey, brown or olive-green, with smooth skin. Its small mouth is located on its underside and its bulging eyes are close together on the top of its head. It has small blunt teeth. It has a long, tapering, whip-like tail with two dorsal fins and a venomous barb. It has five pairs of small gills, which enable it to breath underwater.
It measures about 140 centimetres (55 inches) across and 250 centimetres (98 inches) long. Its stinging spine (barb) can measure up to 35 centimetres (14 inches) long.
The Common Stingray is native to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. It prefers sandy or muddy habitats in calm, shallow coastal waters, particularly in reefs and estuaries. It is a bottom-dwelling fish, so it is called a benthic fish.
The wing-like pectoral fins are used for locomotion.
The Common Stingray is nocturnal, active at night, tending to bury itself in the sand at the bottom of the ocean during the day.
It eats crustaceans, such as crabs and shrimp, as well as molluscs, worms, and small fish. It lies hidden in the soil, and leaps out to catch its prey.
It is solitary, but can be found in social groups.
The Common Stingray is ovoviparous, which means that its eggs hatch inside the mother’s body and she gives birth to live young. The female has 4-9 live young, after a pregnancy of 120 days. Young rays sometimes have white spots.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
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