Eagle Rays: Cownose Ray

Cownose Ray
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COWNOSE RAY
Rhinoptera bonasus

 

Identification
Disc brown to olive, with no spots or markings. Pectoral fins ("wings") long and pointed. Snout projecting, squarish, with an indentation at center (almost bi-lobed). Two small cephalic fins (rostra) protruding from front of head. Mouth small, sub-terminal. Tail whip-like with spine at base just posterior to a small dorsal fin.

Habitat and Behavior
A pelagic species found in bays, estuaries, river mouths, and open ocean. Forms large schools containing 100s or 1,000s of individuals. Migrates seasonally in the Gulf of Mexico and along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Present in some estuaries year-round.

Feeding
Diet consists mainly of bivalve mollusks, crustaceans, and various other benthic invertebrates (i.e. clams, oysters, shrimp, marine worms).

Reproduction
Aplacental viviparity. Normally just one pup per litter.

Size
Wingspan up to 3 feet.

Human Factors
Non-aggressive species of little danger to humans with the exception of their defensive venomous barb located near the base of the tail. Avoid handling or exercise extreme caution.



FWC Facts:
The organism that causes red tide in Florida, Karenia brevis, owes its name to a state researcher of harmful algal blooms, Dr. Karen Steidinger.

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