I’ve Seen That – Aetobatus narinari
It’s always a treat for divers to see a spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari ) flying across the sandy flats or bottom feeding in Cayman Islands’ waters. They’re considered to be lucky icons and have been important to Caribbean culture for hundreds of years—one of the reasons the CCMI selected it for their logo.
The spotted eagle ray:
- Can grow up to 16-1/2 feet long and weigh more than 500 pounds with a tail up to three times its body length.
- Has spot markings that are unique to each animal and can be used for identification like a zebra’s stripes.
- Has 2–6 venomous spines near the base of its tail that are harmless unless the ray feels threatened.
- Uses grinding plates on the underside of its body to crush food, which consists primarily of mollusks, crustaceans, and bivalves.
- Breaches (flies out of the water) to get away from predators.
- Is considered a “near threatened” species, with only humans (sportfishing) and certain types of sharks as predators.
Learn more about our marine environment and creatures from Katie Correia, Science and education manager at Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Little Cayman Research Center. For more info on the CCMI, visit www.reefresearch.org.