January 5, 2021
Stingrays may look bizarre, but their peculiarities make them a super interesting animal to learn about – with their strange anatomies offering up plenty of odd facts and intrigue. That’s why we’ve put together a stingray deep-dive to look at their unusual anatomy in a little more detail.
From their fins and stingers to their eyes and mouth, we’ll take a closer look at the unique physique of the stingray to see how they function underwater. We’ll also share some facts and stats about these incredible creatures of the deep.
Surprising for some, stingrays are closely related to sharks. Well, just like sharks, stingrays don’t have any bones. Instead, their bodies are supported by cartilage, which is the same material that our ears are made from. This gives stingrays their bendy, flexible appearance.
To defend themselves, stingrays have tails which they whip when threatened by a shark or other predator. Some types of stingrays have sharp, venomous spines along these tails, and these serrated or notched spikes can be lethal to would-be predators; they’re also dangerous to humans.
Luckily, stingrays won’t attack unless they feel threatened, and even then, its venom is only deadly when victims are attacked in the chest or abdomen. In fact, during Ancient Greece, stingray venom was extracted and used as an anaesthetic by dentists.
Stingrays have broad fins running the full length of their bodies, which give them their characteristic flat, round shape. And when they move, they move their whole bodies in a wavy motion that pushes them through the water. Indeed, it could be said that stingrays move more like birds than fish, flapping their fins up and down to propel them through the water.
Stingrays’ eyes are perched on the top of its flat body, which might not seem like a very good place for them to go. But, having them here means they can continue to observe their surroundings, even when their bodies are buried under sand.
Located underneath its body, a stingray’s mouth is perfectly suited to snacking on things like crabs, clams, and shrimp which dwell at the bottom of the ocean.
Like its shark relations, stingrays breathe with the help of gills. They have a row of five gill slits located on the underside of their bodies.
This extra adaptation, called spiracles, is located near their eyes and allows stingrays to bury themselves in the sand of the ocean floor and still breathe. They can do this by sucking sandy water in through their gills and clear water in through the spiracles, before forcing it out through their gills. Here, they can wait for prey to pass overhead before eating!
Enjoyed this look at one of the ocean’s most incredible creatures? Want to see some more of the most amazing animals of the deep for yourself? To purchase tickets for Blue Reef Aquarium Portsmouth, book online to take advantage of our discount offer here.