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. Meet our own stingray Sonny during your visit at SEA LIFE Brighton.
These 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 when they have to hide from their own predators such as Great Hammerhead Sharks and Killer Whales.
You can see our undulate rays in our native British Water displays, along with other native species - Thornback rays and spotted rays. Though they are commonly known as Undulate Rays, Undulates are actually a type of Skate. Rays and Skate are similar but there are a few differences including how they reproduce; Rays give birth to live young whereas Skate lay eggs. Undulate Rays are very well adapted for life on the sea bed; They have flattened bodies so they can easily hide under the sand and their bulbous eyes poke out to spot any tasty prey swimming past. To catch their food, they will leap out of the sand and trap it under their huge wings. With their mouth full of crushing teeth located underneath them it is easy for them to quickly grab and consumer their prey. Sadly Undulate Rays are now Endangered off the coast of the UK due to overfishing. SEA LIFE Brighton is part of a national Undulate Ray breeding program and has already welcomed a number of healthy, baby Undulate Rays into the world.