The Spotted Eagle Ray
The Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari) is a cartilaginous fish belonging to the eagle ray family of stingrays. Its name comes from its distinctive spots, fins that flap quite similar to wings, and a snout that somewhat resembles an eagle’s beak.
They are globally prevalent in warm, tropical waters along the coast. You’ll often see them gliding throughout the vibrant coral reefs, but for feeding and mating, they’ll usually enter protected bay areas. And while Spotted Eagle Rays are considered a ‘coastal’ species, they are known to migrate far distances over the deep sea.
Unique Facts & Features
The common saying “birds of a feather flock together,” resonates with Spotted Eagle Rays as they enjoy traveling together most of the time (shoals of at least 100 known as ‘fever’ of rays), but it’s not uncommon for them to venture off alone too. Similar to human fingerprints, every Spotted Eagle Ray has its own unique pattern of spots, lines and circles.
Spotted Eagle Ray Fun Facts:
- Maximum length of 16.4 feet
- Maximum weight of 507 lbs.
- Wingspan can reach a maximum width of 9.8 feet
- Lifespan is around 25 years
- Usually, a solitary predator
- Carnivorous (usually eating mollusks, crustaceans, octopuses and smaller fish)
According to Newsweek:
“Scientists don’t know why rays jump, as pictured in the video, although some have speculated that females may leap to avoid unwanted male attention. Or perhaps the ray is attempting to shake off parasites—eagle rays, as with many other pelagic marine creatures, are plagued with both internal and external parasites, mostly gathering on their gills.”
Spotted Eagle Ray Sightings
Spotted Eagle Rays are a delight to encounter while on a dive. You’ll often catch them cruising by gracefully on the way to their next destination. Their pattern combined with their elegant style of gliding throughout the water mirrors an eagle flying through the sky.
Check out the video below of Robert Carmichael, diving alongside a majestic Spottle Eagle Ray on a Brownie’s Third Lung Sea LiOn in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida.