Rays belong to the superorder Batoidea, which includes stingrays, electric rays, skates, guitarfish and sawfish. Like sharks–their closest relatives–batoids have skeletons made of tough connective tissue similar to the cartilage that supports your nose. About 480 species of batoids are distributed worldwide in both freshwater and saltwater areas. Rays primarily feed on molluscs, crustaceans, worms and occasionally small fish.

Slippery. Slimy. Strange. These are a few ways that people describe stingrays. That’s because stingrays have a mucus coating that covers and protects their skin from irritating sand and rough rocks. Rays may be difficult to locate since they often bury themselves under a thin layer of sand or soft sediment for added camouflage. .

Stingrays have whip-like tails armed with venomous spines. Sounds scary, but a ray lashes its tail only to defend itself if caught, stepped on or otherwise disturbed. Don’t want to be stung? Then do the stingray shuffle! Rays could be hiding in shallow water, so shuffle your feet along sandy shorelines to avoid stepping on them.