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Gregory R. Mann, Ph.D. {ret.}

Spotted Eagle Stingray

“Aetobatus narinari”

Spotted Eagle Stingrays grow to at least 3.5 meters disc width and 9 meters total length and have a recorded maximum weight of 230 kilograms. The Spotted Eagle Stingray has a long snout, flat and rounded like a duck’s bill, a thick head and a pectoral disc with sharply curved, angular corners and no caudal fin; jaws usually with single row of flat, chevron-shaped teeth. Each tooth is a crescent-shaped plate joined into a band. They usually have numerous white spots on black or bluish disc; with white below. Long whip-like tail, with a long spine near the base, behind small dorsal fin. The tail spines are poisonous. If the stingray loses one of its barbs while defending itself, it immediately begins to grow a new one. Stingrays shed and re-grow their spines on a regular basis regardless of whether they use them. James Bertakis of Lighthouse Point was on the water with his granddaughter and a friend Wednesday October 18, 2006 when a Spotted Eagle Stingray flopped onto the boat and stung Bertakis. The women steered the boat to shore and called 911. “Bertakis was apparently trying to remove the Spotted Eagle Stingray from the boat when he was stung” Police Commander Mike Oh said. “The ray was approximately 3 feet across and 18 to 24 inches long” Oh said. “Officials have kept the dead ray in case doctors need to examine it” Oh said. Surgeons were able to remove some of the barb and Bertakis, who also suffered a collapsed lung, underwent surgery late Wednesday and early Thursday, the Miami Herald reported on its website. Dr. Ellen Pikitch, a professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami, who has been studying Spotted Eagle Stingrays for decades, said they are generally docile. “Something like this is really, really extraordinarily rare” she said. “Even when they are under duress, they don’t usually attack”.

Spotted Eagle Stingrays are commonly found in shallow inshore waters such as bays and coral reefs but may cross oceanic basins. They sometimes enters estuaries. They swim close to the surface, occasionally leaping out of the water or close to the bottom. They frequently form large schools during the non-breeding season. The Spotted Eagle Stingray is distributed worldwide in tropical, coastal waters. In Australia it is recorded from Shark Bay, Western Australia to Sydney, New South Wales. Depth range 0-80 meters, subtropical; 40°N-34°S. Western Atlantic: North Carolina (summer) and Florida and Bermuda to southern Brazil. Throughout Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, including Antilles. Eastern Atlantic: Mauritania to Angola. Indo-West Pacific: Red Sea and South Africa to Hawaii, north to Japan, south to Australia. Eastern Pacific: Gulf of California to Puerto Pizarro, Peru and the Galápagos Islands. Spotted Eagle Stingrays feed mainly on bivalves but also eats shrimps, crabs, octopus and worms, whelks and small fishes. Exhibits ovoviparity with embryos feeding initially on yolk, then receiving additional nourishment from the mother by indirect absorption of uterine fluid enriched with mucus, fat or protein through specialized structures. Bears up to 4 young. Width at birth 17-35 centimeters. The female stops swimming to begin copulation. The male bites the female on a pectoral fin and bends one clasper forward, then attempts an abdomen to abdomen copulation with either clasper, usually mid-water. Recorded copulation lasted for 20 seconds to 1 minute. Spotted Eagle Stingrays are a very widely distributed, relatively prolific schooling species.

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