Cownose Ray Facts
- First of all, the quite highly distinctive term Cownose Ray only applies to a single species ray found within the genus Rhinoptera. But, for the moment, one known subspecies of the animal also appears to exist. Quite understandably for those who have encountered one of them, the common name derives from its unique physical appearance.
- Moreover, this truly remarkable creature technically currently classifies as a variety of stingray. This scientific classification occurs due to the quite close genetic relationship the animal holds with both skates and sharks. In point of fact, this wonderfully impressive animal, as well as sharks and skates all belong to the same fascinating Order; Myliobatiformes.
- Firstly, this beautiful creature once appeared in rather vast numbers across a relatively wide range of distribution. Secondly, and also quite sadly, however, its population now represents only a tiny fraction of past numbers. For that reason, among others, the IUCN currently lists this incredible animal as Near Threatened on its Red List of Threatened Species.
- However, the remarkable species does face several ongoing threats to its continued existence. While not commercially fished, the animal does frequently fall prey to recreational fishermen. It also indirectly suffers from a reduction in its food supply, as pollution has now reduced this. Yet, its greatest threat now comes in the form of ongoing climate change.
Cownose Ray Physical Description
Perhaps most notably of all, the beautiful Cownose Ray ranks as one of the smaller known types of ray found throughout the world. However, this statistical fact in no way detracts from the awesomeness of the impressive creature. In addition to being somewhat smaller than many related species, the animal also displays a moderate degree of sexual dimorphism.
Further, in its case, this principle appears in regards to sheer physical size. That’s because males of the species generally develop as larger than the females. Males attain an average width of about 45 in (1. 14 m). These also reach a typical weight of around 50 lb (23 kg). Yet, exceptional specimens occasionally occur.
Meanwhile, the smaller females attain a slightly smaller average width, as commonly occurs among species of this type. In the case of this fascinating animal, this measurement equals roughly 39 in (1 m). In addition, the average weight of mature females typically reaches a total of around 36 lb (16 kg).
Unlike in terms of size, individual specimens of Cownose Ray of both genders display the same basic color pattern. This usually consists of a light to dark brown on the upper side of the body. But, the underside most commonly displays either a whitish or yellowish color. it also has a barbed tail, and mildly venomous teeth on its spine.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Chondrichthyes
- Order: Myliobatiformes
- Family: Rhinopteridae
- Genus: Rhinoptera
- Species: R. bonasus
Cownose Ray Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
It bears mentioning that the wonderful Cownose Ray inhabits a comparatively broad range of the world. Yet more specifically, that territory includes portions of the eastern and western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean. Consequently, this incredible creature may be seen from the coastal waters of New England, in the United States, in North America, to Brazil, in South America.
This fascinating creature also distinguishes itself from many of its brethren in terms of its preferences for type of habitat. That’s due to the fact that individuals of this species typically appear in areas of shallow, brackish water. Furthermore, this most commonly happens to be where a river empties into the ocean. Additionally, it rarely appears at depths greater than 72 ft (22 m).
The Cownose Ray remains quite famous for its comparatively extensive migrations within its endemic range. The amazing species also tends to migrate and live in huge numbers. Further, these sometimes number as many as 10,000 individuals. This behavior also remains uncommon among creatures of its type, making it difficult to imagine one of these astounding herds during its migration.
Although it differs from its relatives in some ways, its dietary practices remains consistent with related species. That’s because this particular carnivore feeds on small invertebrates. This typically consists of a variety of clams and oysters. Breeding occurs between June and October. The young are born alive, following an 11-12 month gestation period. Finally, it has an average lifespan of about 16 years.