Southern Stingray

Southern Stingray
Southern Stingray – by Kevin Eddy (Flickr.com/commons/)

Worth knowing about the Southern Stingray

Taxonomy

The Southern Stingray (Hypanus americanus) is a member of the animal kingdom, specifically the Chordata tribe. They’re split into the class Chondrichthyes, the order Myliobatiformes, the family Dasyatidae, the genus Dasyatis, and the species Hypanus americanus here.

This animal was first described in 1814 by Samuel Frederick Hildebrand and William Charles Schroeder. These 2 American gentlemen were both ichthyologists.

Another synonym for the Southern Stingray is Dasyatis americana.

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Description

This fish could be described as a flat, diamond-shaped disk. On top, this disc has a row of short spines and sharp outer corners. The Southern Stingray is distinguished from other stingray species by its angular shape.

The animal’s skin is usually a uniform dark brown (sometimes olive-brown or olive green), but younger specimens are grayer. They have a white or whitish undersurface with a gray or brown border.

They have a serrated spine on their tail that is covered in a poisonous slime. It’s only for self-defense. The Southern Stingray is not aggressive and only attacks humans on rare occasions. They can only attack if they are completely surrounded. Swimming or snorkeling near such animals is thus completely safe.

The venomous spine is normally not fatal to humans if they step on it by accident, but it will cause excruciating pain.

Their eyes are located on top of their heads and have small openings known as spiracles. The Southern Stingray can breathe through these spiracles while lying on the seafloor with its mouth hidden. Water enters and exits the spiracles through the gill openings.

Males can reach a maximum width of 67cm while females can reach a maximum width of 150cm.

The Southern Stingray – International names

  • Bahamas: Southern stingray
  • Brazil: Arraia, Arraia-bico-de-remo, Arraia-mijona, Raia-cravadora, Raia-lixa, Raia-prego
  • China: 美洲魟
  • Colombia: Kerovay, Raya, Rayalátigo arrecifal
  • Cuba: Kit, Raya americana, Southern stingray, Stingaree, Whip stingray
  • Denmark: Pigrokke, Pilrokke, Vestatlantisk pigrokke
  • Dominican Rp: Raya verde
  • Estonia: Ameerika astelrai
  • Finland: Ruskokeihäsrausku
  • France: Pastenague américaine
  • Germany: Peitschenrochen, Stechrochen
  • Greece: Sálahi trygéna, Trigóna
  • Guadeloupe: Stingray
  • Italy: Pastinaca, Trigono
  • Japan: Amerika-aka-ei
  • Martinique: Stingray
  • Mexico: Raya látigo, Raya látigo blanca
  • Neth Antiles: Chuchu rok, Chuchu ròk, Pijlstaartrog, Southern stingray, Stekelrog
  • Netherlands: Amerikaanse pijlstaartrog
  • Nicaragua: Rayalatigo americana
  • Norway: Pilrokke, Pilskate
  • Poland: Ogoncza amerykanska
  • Puerto Rico: Raya, Southern stingray
  • Russia: хвостокол американский
  • Serbia: Siba zutulja, Volina
  • Spain: Pastinaca, Raya, Raya látigo americana
  • St Lucia: Southern stingray
  • Sweden: Stingrocka, Västindisk spjutrocka
  • Turkey: Ignelivatoz
  • USA: Southern stingray
  • Venezuela: Raya

Photos of the Southern Stingray (Hypanus americanus)

Southern Stingray 1
Stingray 1 – by Ben – (Flickr.com/commons/)
Southern Stingrays
Southern Stingrays – by Viv Lynch – (Flickr.com/commons/)
Southern Stingray 2
Southern Stingray 2 – by Ben – (Flickr.com/commons/)
Southern Stingray 3
Stingray 3 – (Dasyatis americana) – by Jeff K – (Flickr.com/commons/)
Southern Stingray 4
Southern Stingray 4 – by Ben – (Flickr.com/commons/)
Southern Stingray 5
Southern Stingray 5 – by Sean Nash – (Flickr.com/commons/

Where can you find the Southern Stingray?

This species is found in the western Atlantic Ocean, specifically from New Jersey in the United States, north of the Gulf of Mexico, and south of Brazil. The Antilles are included as well.

The rays prefer the tropical and subtropical temperatures in these areas in particular. They usually like to swim around in seagrass beds.

They live in seawater, brackish seawater, and reef environments. The Southern Stingray’s body has been modified to allow it to lie flat on the bottom. They sometimes bury themselves in the sand, only their eyes and spiracles visible.

The animal can be found down to 53m depth, but most swim at around 4m.

The Southern Stingray – Countries where they live

You can swim the Southern Stingray in the following North American countries:

  • Antigua Barbuda, Aruba
  • Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil
  • Cayman Is., Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cruraçao I.
  • Dominica, Dominican Rp
  • French Guiana
  • Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana
  • Haiti, Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama, Puerto Rico
  • St Lucia, St Vincent Gren., Suriname
  • Trinidad Tobago
  • USA
  • Venezuela, Virgin Is. (UK), Virgin Is. (US)

Southern Stingray: Their nutrition

The animals use their wings to swirl sand upwards, possibly revealing different types of prey. Other fish and even cormorants join the churning to take advantage of leftover treats. As a result, both animals take care of each other in terms of nutrition, which is known as commensal foraging.

They bury themselves in the sand during the day and hunt and eat at night.

Crustaceans (such as crab, lobster, shrimp, and king prawns), worms, clams, and small fish are their primary prey.

Crab
Crab – by Valery Dyck – (Flickr.com/commons/)
Lobster
Lobster – by Mazudi Ramthan – (Flickr.com/commons/)
Shrimp
Shrimps – by NOLA Emergency Response – (Flickr.com/commons/)
King Prawns
King Prawns – by Gordon Attard – (Flickr.com/commons/)
Clams
Clams – by rachel lieberman – (Flickr.com/commons/)

This fish’s senses are highly developed, and it can smell, feel, and see prey. They use their noses to sniff the ocean floor (like a bloodhound). The animals use a special lateral line sense to detect even the smallest vibrations or movements. They can also reveal the electric field of their prey. Animals that are well hidden or camouflaged will thus be in their sights as well.

They use their mouths to blow up the sand like a pressure washer when they find a victim who is difficult to reach.

How do these animals mate?

The Southern Stingray is ovoviparous (aplacental viviparity). Embryos feed on the yolk and receive additional nutrition from uterine fluid or histotrophic (mother’s milk) absorption. Protein (via specialized structures), fats, and mucus are abundant in this fluid.

When mating, the pair clearly embraces, and the male crawls on the back of the female.

The mother’s gestation period ranges from 135 to 226 days. Two to ten young are typically born. There is no aftercare after birth, and the children are left to fend for themselves.

The mother animal can mate again soon after giving birth.

Southern Stingray in the human diet

There are always those who enjoy eating rye. The important thing to remember here is that it is best to buy ray from July to December. The animal must be as fresh as possible and processed as soon as possible. Then it’s a true delicacy.

A recipe from my home country is included below (Belgium).

Rye with capers and parsley potatoes.

Rye with capers and parsley potatoes
Rye with capers and parsley potatoes

Ingredients for 4 persons:

4 fresh ray wings
1/2 bunch curly parsley
1 lemon
400g potatoes (solid boiling)
butter
flower
capers
pepper
salt

Preparation:

  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into a barrel shape (Pommes chateaux). Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water until just undercooked.
  • Sprinkle some flour on a large plate. Remove the ray wings from the refrigerator and season with ground pepper and a pinch of salt. Roll the fish in the flour and tap off the excess.
  • Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the ray until golden brown on both sides over medium heat (three to four minutes on each side). Prevent the butter from burning by adding a knob of butter every now and then.
  • During baking, regularly spoon some frying fat over the ray wings, so that the fish remains sufficiently juicy.
  • Chop the curly parsley. You don’t use the stems.
  • Melt a knob of butter in a pot and gently fry the potatoes in it.
  • Remove the fried fish from the pan and keep it warm. In the same pan, we now prepare the sauce. Melt a knob of butter and add the capers. Deglaze the pan with the juice of a lemon.
  • Mix the fresh parsley under the potatoes.
  • Serve the ray wing with some potatoes and spoon a spoonful of sauce over it.

Enemies of the Southern Stingray

The only significant predators of the Southern Stingray are humans and some species of sharks, with the hammerhead shark being the most dangerous of these.

Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead Shark – by Michel Jean Louis DAVID – (Flickr.com/commons/)

Finally

This is where I come to the end of this article. I hope you found it interesting and of course, any questions, additional information, comments, ambiguities, or untruths can always be left behind. Thanks in advance!

For those interested: I also wrote an article about Eagle Ray.

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