by Kaza Ansley
Stingrays live in Puget Sound, but they also live almost all over the world. There are more than 100 species of stingray, ranging in size between 1-15 feet across, and weighing from 1-750 pounds. They are all able to inflict a severe wound with their tail and sword-like poisonous spine.
Stingrays like to live in shallow water and prefer to be buried in soft sand or mud. They are strong, active swimmers, end move quickly through the water with their large fins. Stingrays are commonly found in areas like bays, estuaries, and sloughs.
Some scientists believe that, at the beginning of winter, stingrays make long migrations to places where there are warmer waters. But others think that they bury themselves under the soft seabed and sand and spend the winter hibernating. Anyway, stingrays are usually found in colder waters during the summer.
Not very much is known about stingrays mating behavior. Although it is known that stingrays produce two to nine young which hatch from an egg inside the female’s body. As they are beginning to develop, the babies feed from the yolk. Later, they take in food that is secreted through the female’s uterine web. Most stingrays are born in late spring or early summer.
People have been killed by stingrays, often as a result of standing on one buried in the sand, and being struck by its lashing tail and spine. When the fish is disturbed in any way, it thrashes its tail, along with its spine, from side to side. Even though the spine is rigid, the tail is so flexible, that together they make a great defense weapon that has been known to seriously injure or kill unsuspecting swimmers.
Stingrays mainly feed on worms, mollusks, and crustaceans, which they dig out of the seabed. Bigger stingrays may also eat dead fish and squid. The stingray’s mouth is on the underside of its body. Its wide jaws and several rows of blunt and hard teeth are used to crush the shells of their prey. Even though the stingray muddy colors are a good camouflage, it usually give its presence away by creating a cloud of sediment in the water.
Many things are not known about stingrays. Stingray’s spines have been used to make spear tips, daggers, needles, and awls. When stingrays are caught in commercial fishing nets, the fishermen sometimes cut off the spines before putting them back in the sea. Hammerhead sharks often prey on small to medium sized stingrays. A few scientists believe that the strange hammer-shaped head of the shark has evolved to keep its head clear of the lashing tail and poisonous spine of the stingray.