Types Of Stingrays – Explanation + Visual Guide

Stingrays are a type of fish that are related to sharks. There are about 9 families of stingray which comprise over 200 different species. They are solitary animals that only come together when its time to mate (see, how do stingrays mate for more information). These are the basic types of stingrays.

The stingrays are a large suborder of the rays. They are cartilaginous fishes related to sharks. They are classified in the suborder Myliobatoidei of the order Myliobatiformes, and consist of nine families. Most stingrays have one or more barbed stings on the tail, which is used only for self-defending.

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingray

Most stingrays prefer to dwell at the bottom of the ocean floor where they eat mainly crustaceans and other small creatures like worms. You can read what do stingrays eat for more on their feeding habits.

Smooth Stingray

These types of stingray are native to Mozambique, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. Smooth stingray, also known as short-tail stingray, grow up to 14 feet in diameter. And, they can weigh up to 770+ pounds!

Short-tail Stingray.
Short-tail Stingray.

They have two stingers. There’s a small stinger to the front and a much larger stinger in the back. This stingray species thrive in water 600 to 1500 feet deep.

During the summer months, large midwater aggregations of short-tail stingrays can be found around the Poor Knights Islands off New Zealand.

  • Scientific name: Bathytoshia brevicaudata
  • Conservation status: Least Concern
  • Rank: Species
  • Higher classification: Dasyatis
  • Family: Dasyatidae

Whiptail Stingrays

The river stingrays, and a number of whiptail stingrays (such as the Niger stingray), are restricted to fresh water.

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These types of rays have tails shaped like whips, with barbed tips, which are poisonous. The southern stingray is a type of whiptail stingray.

The whiptail stingrays are a family, the Dasyatidae, of rays in the order Myliobatiformes. They are found worldwide in tropical to temperate marine waters, and a number of species have also penetrated into fresh water in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiptail_stingray
  • Family: Dasyatidae; D. S. Jordan, 1888
  • Scientific name: Dasyatidae
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Mass: Southern stingray: 160 lbs
  • Class: Chondrichthyes

Southern Stingray

The southern stingray types can be identified by their diamond-shaped body. The top side is brown while the underbelly is white in color. These types of stingrays live in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

Southern Stingray.
Southern Stingray.

Southern stingrays have been known to grow up to 5 feet in diameter and can weigh up to 160 pounds. These stingrays hide by covering themselves in the sand and sometimes only leaving their eyes and tail visible.

  • Scientific name: Hypanus americanus
  • Mass: 160 lbs (Adult)
  • Class: Chondrichthyes
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Order: Myliobatiformes
  • Rank: Species

Eagle Ray

These types of stingrays prefer to swim about in the open ocean instead of close to the bottom of the seafloor. They can also be seen leaping out the water at times. Read how do stingrays swim for more information.

Eagle stingrays have one of the longest tails of all the different species of stingrays. And, instead of the typical round body, eagle rays have bodies that make them look like they are flying with wings. This is where they get their name.

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Spotted Eagle Ray.
Spotted Eagle Ray.

Because eagle rays roam about in the open ocean they are vulnerable to accidental capture in commercial fishing operations. Spotted eagle rays, manta rays, and bat rays are all different types of eagle rays.

The eagle rays are a group of cartilaginous fishes in the family Myliobatidae, consisting mostly of large species living in the open ocean rather than on the sea bottom. Eagle rays feed on mollusks and crustaceans, crushing their shells with their flattened teeth. Devil and manta rays filter plankton from the water.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_ray
  • Scientific name: Myliobatidae
  • Family: Myliobatidae; Bonaparte, 1838
  • Higher classification: Stingray
  • Rank: Family
  • Mass: Giant oceanic manta ray: 3,600 lbs, Bat ray: 100 lbs, Longheaded eagle ray: 17 lbs

Bat Rays

Bat Rays.
Bat Rays.

This type of eagle ray usually hangs around sandy or muddy sloughs, as well as kelp beds, bays, and estuaries. Fun fact: At one point, oyster growers actually caused the destruction of their own oyster beds by trapping bat rays, which eat crabs.

Bat Rays.
  • Mass: 100 lbs (Adult) Encyclopedia of Life
  • Scientific name: Myliobatis californica
  • Conservation status: Least Concern Encyclopedia of Life
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Family: Myliobatidae

Manta Ray

The largest rays to exist are manta rays and they’re a type of eagle ray too! The average manta ray grows up to 25 feet and can weigh as much as 5100 pounds!

These giant fish feed on plankton and fish larvae. It’s typical to see cleaner fish such as wrasse and angelfish swim in their gills and feed off dead tissue on a manta ray.

Manta Rays.
Manta Rays.

Despite their large size, these types of rays are non-violent and sometimes swim alongside divers out of sheer curiosity. Caution should still be exhibited when encountering wild animals though.

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Fun Fact: The spiracles (breathing mechanism) typical of rays are vestigial (underdeveloped), and mantas must swim continuously to keep oxygenated water passing over their gills.

Swimming with manta ray.
  • Mass: Giant oceanic manta ray: 3,600 lbs Encyclopedia of Life
  • Class: Chondrichthyes
  • Scientific name: Manta
  • Order: Myliobatiformes
  • Family: Mobulidae

Round Stingray

Round stingray or Urobatis Halleri inhabit the waters from California to Panama. These are small rays and mostly bury themselves in sand feeding on small invertebrates.

Round stingray.
Round stingray.

Round stingrays have a yellowish-brownish color and many beachgoers step on them without noticing. They mostly hang out around sandy beach types. Of course, the little guy stings them but their sting is not fatal although it is quite painful.

  • Scientific name: Urolophus halleri
  • Rank: Species
  • Class: Chondrichthyes
  • Order: Myliobatiformes
  • Higher classification: Urobatis
  • Phylum: Chordata

Blue Spotted Ray

Blue-spotted rays have colorful blue spots all over their bodies. They feed on small mollusks, shrimps, fish, worms, and crabs, which they find buried in the sand.

  • Scientific name: Taeniura lymma
  • Conservation status: Near Threatened
  • Class: Chondrichthyes
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Family: Dasyatidae

Electric Ray

Like the electric eel, electric rays create an electric discharge that’s capable of stunning their foes and pray. These species of ray can generate an electric charge of 8 to 220 volts, depending on species.

Electric torpedo ray.
  • Scientific name: Torpediniformes
  • Mass: Marbled electric ray: 3.6 lbs
  • Class: Chondrichthyes
  • Order: Torpediniformes; F. de Buen, 1926
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Kingdom: Animalia

You can read out article on interesting facts about stingrays for more information on these magnificent creatures.

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