Like sharks, rays have cartilaginous skeletons. These flat fish have gill slits on the ventral (under) side of their bodies. Two spiracles behind the eyes on the dorsal (upper) surface draw in water which flows over the gills before exiting through the gill slits.
Rays are bottom-dwellers which use camouflage and toxic spines or electric shocks to defend themselves against predators.
They glide along the sand in search of food or hide just beneath it, waiting for their prey. Using electro-receptors and highly developed senses of smell and touch, they find molluscs, crustaceans, worms and small fishes, which they crush with flattened teeth.
Rays give birth to live young (they are ovoviviparous).
With a maximum width of 2.1m, a total length of at least 4.3m and weighing over 300kg, the short-tail stingray is possibly the largest of the stingray species.
Although the barb in their tails can inflict a severe or potentially fatal wound, short-tail stingrays are generally more inquisitive than aggressive.
(Photo: Geoff Spiby)
Rays are ovoviviparous – they give birth to live young
Rays and sharks are closely related
Listed as Orange (caution) on SASSI’s Consumer Seafood List