Cownose ray


CLASS: Chondrichthyes
ORDER: Myliobatiformes
FAMILY: Rhinopteridae
SPECIES:R. bonasus

habitat & Range

The cownose ray occupies pelagic and inshore waters that range from brackish to marine and make seasonal migrations across the Atlantic Ocean.

Did you know?

  • Cownose rays use the flapping of the pectoral fins as well as their mouths to suck and vent water and sediment on the floor of the ocean. This allows them to uncover hidden prey.
  • Cownose sting rays migrate south every fall to their spawning grounds and can be seen passing by various barrier islands.
  • Their venomous spines can be harmlessly trimmed to help protect the rays, staff, and visitors. They grow back like fingernails!
  • Cownose rays get their name from their specialize facial structure, making them look like a cow’s nose.
North American River Otter

Form & Function

The cownose ray has large, pointed, wing-like pectoral fins that it uses to propel itself through the water. The dorsal surface is brown while the belly is typically white. It has two lobes near the mouth and nose which gives it its name. It also has serrated, venomous spines at the base of its whip-like tail. As prey to some large sharks and fish, the cownose ray travels in large schools as a form of protection. The ray uses movements of its pectoral fins to disturb and remove sediment covering burrowed prey and it can also use its rostral lobes to grasp prey items.

Conservation & YOu

Near Threatened (IUCN) The main threats to this ray are overfishing and overharvesting. Many people hunt them to help “preserve game fish populations” but recent studies have shown that these fish don’t consume a large number of game fish. You can help protect cownose rays by following your state’s fishing laws and regulations, and by spreading the word about these gentle creatures.
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