There are over 500 different species of Rays 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 'Dive Discovery' you'll see huge Southern Stingrays! These large predators spray water from their mouth and flap their wings to disturb the sandy bottom and reveal hidden prey.
They also like to bury themselves in the sand when they have to hide from their own predators such as Great Hammerhead Sharks and Killer Whales.
This wonderfully bizarre animal is called a Bowmouth Guitarfish. Though it is classified as a Ray, really it is half Ray and half Shark! Rays evolved from Sharks but this species stopped somewhere in-between.
When you visit us look out for our Bowmouth, Betty, in 'Pacific Shipwreck'. Like other Rays and Sharks, Betty has incredible skin. Instead of being covered in scales like other fish, she is covered in tiny teeth called dermal denticles. These reduce drag in the water so she can swim faster with ease.
With such huge fins, Bowmouth Guitarfish are particularly targeted by the Shark finning industry.