Porcupine Ray Facts
- Perhaps most notably, the remarkable and fascinating Porcupine Ray qualifies as an extremely rare species of ray. In point of act, this magnificent creature also currently remains the only known member of its genus. Few species known to man can make such a claim.
- But, this intriguing ocean animal does not remain well-known just for that reason alone, impressive though it may be. That holds true for a very good reason, in fact. This occurs due to the fact that the marvelous animal also remains unique in several other ways.
- For one thing, unlike many related species, this creature typically remains quite calm and sedate in its actions. This is easily evidenced by the fact that individuals typically remain extremely calm. As a result of this, many frequently tolerate the close approach of divers.
- Quite unfortunately, however, the population numbers of this amazing species appear to be dwindling. Even worse, this marvel of Nature does not yet enjoy any protection under the law. Rather understandably, given these regrettable factors, the IUCN presently lists it as Vulnerable.
Porcupine Ray Physical Description
First of all, the Porcupine Ray remains quite a large variety of ray, though by no means the largest of them all. That’s because the animal attains an average body size of 3.9 ft (1.2 m) across. Secondly, exceptional individuals can exceed this significantly, sometimes measuring as much as 4.9 ft (1.5 m).
In addition, the coloring varies between individuals, and can be either various shades of gray or brown. Furthermore, the eyes develop rather small, and appear placed comparatively close together. The area surrounding the mouth also develops as heavily covered by papillae.
Most of all, it remains famous, or perhaps notorious, for its numerous thorny projections. These remarkable physical features cover most of the body. However, these attributes evolved to serve a specific purpose. That holds true due to the fact that these actually form a unique defense mechanism.
Finally, one more feature distinguishes this specimen from other rays more than any of the one’s previously mentioned. As it turns out, this particular type of ray forms the only member of its family that does not possess a venomous spine.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Chondrichthyes
- Order: Myliobatiformes
- Family: Dasyatidae
- Genus: Urogymnus
- Species: U. asperrimus
Porcupine Ray Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Porcupine Ray inhabits a range that extends across a rather wide territory range, even though the population density remains sparse. That’s because part of its endemic range includes the Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, it also inhabits portions of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Furthermore, within that range, it predominantly lives as a bottom-dweller. In addition, it also prefers to inhabit shallow water areas of coral, sandy bottom, or seagrass. In keeping with this preference, individuals rarely live at depths exceeding 100 ft (30 m).
The diet of this particular variety of ray primarily consists of comparatively small bony fishes. But, it also dines on various forms of small invertebrates native to its habitat region. This commonly includes crustaceans and certain sea worms. These it typically digs out from the ocean floor.
Finally, habitat degradation primarily due to coastal development appears to be the leading threat to this species. Yet, other factors threaten it as well. Various coastal fisheries often unintentionally catch it during their activities. Given its already precarious position, this poses a true threat.