There are over 500 different species of stingrays and skate in our oceans and rivers. Their closest relative is the shark; rays evolved from sharks around 150 million years ago!
Just like sharks, rays don’t have a bony skeleton. Instead, their skeleton is made of cartilage (just like our nose and ears!). This makes them lighter so it is easier for rays to glide through the ocean.
Stingrays get their name from the stinging barb at the base of their tail. When they feel threatened stingrays can whip up their tail to puncture their pursuer with their spiny, venomous barb. Once they have done this it takes a while for a new one to grow back, so they only use it as a last resort.
In our Stingray Bay, you'll see our happy southern stingrays and Atlantic stingrays as they glide along the sea bed. They also like to bury themselves in the sand! This is a behavior they use in the wild to hide from predators such as Great Hammerhead Sharks and Killer Whales.
In the wild, cownose stingrays can be found in schools of up to 10,000! Can you imagine how much they eat?
The males have 2 large, finger-like stumps called claspers on either side of their tail. These are used to cling to the female. Claspers are completely absent in the females.
Did you know that rays breathe through special holes behind their eyes?