Bat Rays

Rays are more than 500 species of flattened fish that are closely related to sharks. Rays and sharks have skeletons made of cartilage (like in your nose and ears) instead of bone and breathe through five or six gill slits.

Bat rays slowly swim above the seafloor, searching for clams, crabs, shrimps, squid, and fishes hidden in the sand. They use suction to pull prey into their mouths and then crush through any hard shells with rows of flattened teeth.

Although rays are generally peaceful animals, they can sting if threatened. When an unwary swimmer steps on a ray buried in the sand, the stingray defensively reacts by stabbing with the sharp, serrated spine at the base of its tail. The spine delivers painful venom. If stung, a swimmer can lessen the pain by soaking the wounded area in extremely hot water. At the shore, swimmers can avoid being stung by shuffling their feet while wading in shallow water. Stingrays sense the vibrations of this movement and calmly swim away.

Rays and other marine life require clean, clear waters to thrive. Trash ends up in the ocean when it is left on a beach, or when it washes downstream during storms.

You can help keep the ocean clean by properly disposing of trash and participating in beach or waterway clean-ups.

Q: How big do they get?
SW: Bat rays average a width of 3 feet from tip to tip of their pectoral fins. Large bat rays may weigh up to 200 pounds and females are larger than males.

Q: Where do bat rays live?
SW: Bat rays are found in a variety of coastal habitats, including sandy bottoms and kelp forests, from Oregon to the Gulf of California.