The remarkable Porcupine Ray is an extremely rare species of ray. It also remains the only known member of its genus.
They are truly impressive ocean creatures and are unique in several ways. They are:
- very sedate creatures
- tolerant of approaches by divers
- unfortunately not yet protected by law
Their numbers seem to be diminishing rapidly which is sad, but not surprising. In some portions of their range, they have in fact disappeared entirely and hence currently list as Vulnerable by the IUCN.
Porcupine Ray Physical Description
The animal attains an average body size of 3.9 ft (1.2 m) across but an exceptional individual will measure as much as 4.9 ft (1.5 m).
The coloring may be either various shades of gray or brown. The eyes stay small and placed close together. The area surrounding the mouth is heavily covered by papillae.
Most of all, they are famous for the thorny projections covering their bodies which are actually a unique defense mechanism.
There is another feature distinguishing them from other rays: they are the only member of its family that does not possess a venomous spine.
Porcupine Ray Habitat and Ecology
The Porcupine Ray is present across a rather wide territory range but the population density is sparse. Their range includes the Indian and Pacific Oceans as well as portions of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The diet primarily consists of bony fishes as well as small invertebrates which are dug out from the ocean floor.
Habitat degradation primarily due to coastal development is the leading threat to this species.