CLASS: Chondrichtyes ORDER: Myliobatiformes FAMILY: Dasyatidae GENUS: Hypanus SPECIES:H. americanus
habitat & Range
The southern ray occupies shallow, coastal habitats with a sandy ocean floor.
Did you know?
The spine in the tail of southern rays (and other stingrays) is modified from their scales.
Southern rays use their large pectoral fins to move sand while searching for prey or to bury themselves.
They locate prey by using scent and electroreception while slowly swimming over the sea floor.
Southern rays will sometimes visit cleaning stations and allow cleaner wrasses to pick off and eat their parasites.
Form & Function
The southern ray has flattened, wing-like pectoral fins that can reach up to 6.5 feet from tip to tip. They are typically dark brown on the back with a white belly. The mouth and gills are on the under-side of the body. As a stingray, the southern ray has a spine on the base of its thin tail. As a benthic species, this ray spends most of its time on the ocean floor which would cover its mouth and gills. To breathe in these conditions, they utilize small holes (spiracles) near the eyes to bring in water for respiration. Like other stingrays, this ray has a venomous spine at the base of its tail as a form of protection.
Conservation & YOu
Data Deficient (IUCN) Risks to populations include over harvesting as bycatch and human recreational activities, such as ecotourism. You can help protect southern rays by following your state’s fishing laws and regulations and respecting these animals during recreational activities.