Worth knowing about the Southern Stingray
The Southern Stingray (Hypanus americanus) belongs to the kingdom of animals, more specifically to the tribe Chordata. Here they are again subdivided into the class Chondrichthyes, order of Myliobatiformes, the family of Dasyatidae, genus Dasyatis, and the species Hypanus americanus.
Another synonym for the Southern Stingray is Dasyatis americana.
One could describe this fish as a flat, diamond-shaped disk. This disc has a row of short spines and sharp outer corners on top. Its angular shape distinguishes the Southern Stingray from the other stingray species.
Normally the animal has an even dark brown skin on top (sometimes olive-brown or olive green), the younger specimens are grayer. Their under surface is white or whitish with a gray or brown border.
On their tail, they have a spine that is serrated and covered with a poisonous slime. It is only used for self-defense. The Southern Stingray is certainly not aggressive and attacks humans very exceptionally. They can only attack if they are really cornered. It is therefore completely harmless to swim or snorkel next to such animals.
The venomous spine is normally not fatal to humans if they accidentally step on it, but it will cause you incredible pain.
The eyes are on top of the head and have small openings called spiracles. These spiracles allow the Southern Stingray to breathe while lying on the seabed with its mouth hidden. The water enters through these spiracles and exits back through the gill openings.
The females can reach a maximum width of 150cm, the males only reach a maximum width of 67cm.
The Southern Stingray – International names
- Bahamas: Southern stingray
- Brazil: Arraia, Arraia-bico-de-remo, Arraia-mijona, Raia-cravadora, Raia-lixa, Raia-prego
- China: 美洲魟
- Colombia: Kerovay, Raya, Rayalátigo arrecifal
- Cuba: Kit, Raya americana, Southern stingray, Stingaree, Whip stingray
- Denmark: Pigrokke, Pilrokke, Vestatlantisk pigrokke
- Dominican Rp: Raya verde
- Estonia: Ameerika astelrai
- Finland: Ruskokeihäsrausku
- France: Pastenague américaine
- Germany: Peitschenrochen, Stechrochen
- Greece: Sálahi trygéna, Trigóna
- Guadeloupe: Stingray
- Italy: Pastinaca, Trigono
- Japan: Amerika-aka-ei
- Martinique: Stingray
- Mexico: Raya látigo, Raya látigo blanca
- Neth Antiles: Chuchu rok, Chuchu ròk, Pijlstaartrog, Southern stingray, Stekelrog
- Netherlands: Amerikaanse pijlstaartrog
- Nicaragua: Rayalatigo americana
- Norway: Pilrokke, Pilskate
- Poland: Ogoncza amerykanska
- Puerto Rico: Raya, Southern stingray
- Russia: хвостокол американский
- Serbia: Siba zutulja, Volina
- Spain: Pastinaca, Raya, Raya látigo americana
- St Lucia: Southern stingray
- Sweden: Stingrocka, Västindisk spjutrocka
- Turkey: Ignelivatoz
- USA: Southern stingray
- Venezuela: Raya
Photos of the Southern Stingray (Hypanus americanus)
Where can you find the Southern Stingray?
This species occurs in the western part of the Atlantic Ocean, more specifically from New Jersey in the USA, in the north of the Gulf of Mexico, to the south of Brazil. The Antilles are also included.
It is especially the tropical and subtropical temperatures in these areas that the rays like so much. Usually, they like to swim around in seagrass beds.
They can be found in seawater, brackish seawater, and reef areas. The Southern Stingray has a modified body to lie flat on the bottom. Sometimes they bury themselves under the sand with only their eyes and their spiracles visible.
The animal occurs down to 53m depth, but most swim at about 4m depth.
The Southern Stingray – Countries where they live
You can swim the Southern Stingray in the following North American countries:
- Antigua Barbuda, Aruba
- Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil
- Cayman Is., Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cruraçao I.
- Dominica, Dominican Rp
- French Guiana
- Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana
- Haiti, Honduras
- Panama, Puerto Rico
- St Lucia, St Vincent Gren., Suriname
- Trinidad Tobago
- Venezuela, Virgin Is. (UK), Virgin Is. (US)
Southern Stingray: Their nutrition
The animals use their wings to swirl sand upwards, possibly showing various prey. In that churning, there are also other fish and even cormorants that take advantage of leftover treats. So both animals take care of each other in terms of nutrition and that is called commensal foraging.
During the day they bury themselves in the sand and at night they begin to hunt and eat.
Their victims are mainly crustaceans (such as crab, lobster, shrimp, king prawn), worms, clams, and small fish.
The senses of this fish are very well developed and the animal can smell, feel and see prey. They sniff the bottom of the ocean with their noses (like a bloodhound). They notice the smallest vibrations or movements by means of a special lateral line sense. In addition, they are able to expose the electric field of prey. Animals that are even well hidden or camouflaged will therefore also be in their sights.
When they have found a victim, but which is difficult for them to reach, they use their mouths to blow up the sand like a pressure washer.
How do these animals mate?
The Southern Stingray exhibits ovoviparity (aplacental viviparity). Embryos feed on the yolk and receive additional nourishment through absorption of uterine fluid or histotrophic (the mother’s milk). This fluid is rich in protein (via specialized structures), fats, and mucus.
When mating, a clear embrace of the pair is seen, after which the male crawls on the back of the female.
The gestation period in the mother varies between 135 to 226 days. Usually, two to ten young are born. After birth, there is no aftercare and the young are left to their own devices.
Shortly after delivery, the mother animal is again able to mate.
Southern Stingray in the human diet
There are always people who like to eat rye. The most important thing here is that it is best to buy the ray during the months of July to December. The animal must be really fresh and processed as quickly as possible. Then it becomes a true delicacy.
Below you will find a recipe that is made in my homeland (Belgium).
Rye with capers and parsley potatoes.
Ingredients for 4 persons:
4 fresh ray wings
1/2 bunch curly parsley
400g potatoes (solid boiling)
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into a barrel shape (pommes chateaux). Boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water until just undercooked.
- Sprinkle some flour on a large plate. Remove the ray wings from the refrigerator and season with ground pepper and a pinch of salt. Roll the fish in the flour and tap off the excess.
- Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the ray until golden brown on both sides over medium heat (three to four minutes on each side). Prevent the butter from burning by adding a knob of butter every now and then.
- During baking, regularly spoon some frying fat over the ray wings, so that the fish remains sufficiently juicy.
- Chop the curly parsley. You don’t use the stems.
- Melt a knob of butter in a pot and gently fry the potatoes in it.
- Remove the fried fish from the pan and keep warm. In the same pan, we now prepare the sauce. Melt a knob of butter and add the capers. Deglaze the pan with the juice of a lemon.
- Mix the fresh parsley under the potatoes.
- Serve the ray wing with some potatoes and spoon a spoonful of sauce over it.
Enemies of the Southern Stingray
The Southern Stingray’s only significant enemies are humans and some sharks, of which the hammerhead shark is the worst.
This is where I come to the end of this article. I hope you found it interesting and of course any questions, additional information, comments, ambiguities, or untruths can always be left behind. Thanks in advance!
For those interested: I also wrote an article about Eagle Ray.