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Stingray | Maldives Marine Life
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Maldives Marine Life

The stingray, from the family of rays Dasyatidae, is a shark-related fish that has cartilage rather than bones.  They commonly inhabit coastal tropical and subtropical marine waters throughout the world.

Their name comes from the barbed stinger on their tail, their principal characteristic, which is used mainly in self-defence.


Spotted Stingray

Stingray Habitat

The stingray mostly inhabits coastal tropical warm waters such as the ones that you can find around the islands of the Maldives; yet some can be found in freshwater, including rivers.

Their flattened bodies allow them to effectively conceal themselves and hide beneath the sand in their environment where they spend their majority of time inactive and often moving  just with the sway of the tide.

Stingray Appearance

The stingray's coloration: dark grey, usually reflects the seafloor’s shading making it possible for the species to camouflage itself against predatory Sharks and larger Rays.  Their flat bodies are composed of pectoral fins joined to their head and trunk with a tail behind.

As the name suggests, the stingray has a stinger tail that may reach a length of approximately 35 cm.  On the underside it has two grooves with venom-secreting glands and it is covered with a thin layer of skin. Some species of Stingray have several stingers, but a few have none.



Blue Spotted Stingray

Stingray Diet

Stingrays cannot see their prey because their eyes are on top of their bodies and their mouths are below.  So instead they use smell and electro-receptors that pick up on natural electrical charges, to locate their prey and feed on it.

Stingrays feed primarily on crustaceans, mollusks and the occasional small fish which they find on the coral reefs; their favorite spot to hunt. They settle at the bottom while feeding, often leaving only their eyes and tail visible.  Many rays have jaw teeth that enable them to crush their preys.

Stingray Behavior towards Scuba Divers

Stingrays generally do not attack aggressively or even actively defend themselves.  When they feel threatened their primarily reaction is to swim away.  They are very docile but curious animals nevertheless.

They are not normally visible to scuba divers, yet they are likely to be found in shallow, sandy and warm waters so there is always a possibility of spotting one.

Stingray Reproduction

Stingrays are ovoviviparous; meaning that the embryos develop inside eggs that are retained inside the mother’s body until they are ready to hatch.  The female tends to hold the embryo in the womb without a placenta therefore making the embryo absorb nutrients from a yolk sac.  When a male is courting the female he will follow her closely, biting at her pectoral disc.

Threats to Stingray

Some species of stingray are listed as threatened and even endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Yet most of them (there are over 200 species of Stingrays), are relatively widespread and currently not under any extinction risk.  Stingrays are edible though and may be caught as food by spear fishermen; yet they are not very common as a source of food.  The skin of the stingray is also used for several purposes such as shoes, boots, belts, wallets, jackets and even cell phone cases.