EAGLE RAYS

 

EAGLE RAYS

Spotted Eagle Rays everywhere!

 

Each year from late November until early March the shipwrecks between Isla Mujeres and Cancun turn into a

virtual "fly zone" for huge groups of spotted eagle rays. Gliding effortlessly above the wrecks, eagle rays are

the sentries that patrol enormous territories each day in search of food, mates, and amusement. The eagle rays

gather around the shipwrecks in prolific numbers, attracted by the strong currents of that season and schools

of them can be seen swimming serenely closely above your heads or jumping out of the water.

Measuring up to 10ft (3 meters) from wing-tip to wing-tip, spotted eagle rays are part of the Myliobatidae

branch of rays which are known to swim in the open ocean rather than close to the seafloor. Despite having

poisonous stingers they are also known to be shy and non-threatening when in large schools. A spotted eagle

ray will glide by or provide the pleasure of being watched as they penetrate the sandy bottom looking for their

favorite food: concha.

 

The spotted eagle ray is commonly observed in bays and over coral reefs as well as the occasional foray into

estuarine habitats. Although it occurs in inshore waters to depths of approximately 200 feet (60 m), the

spotted eagle ray spends most of its time swimming in schools in open water. In open waters, spotted eagle

rays often form large schools and swim close to the surface. It is known to swim long distances across open

waters as evidenced by its presence in Bermuda. This species is capable of leaping completely out of the water

when pursued. It swims by "flying" gracefully through the water via the undulation of the pectoral fins. When

this ray is caught and taken out of the water, it produces loud sounds. Although much research is still needed

on the life history of the spotted eagle ray, it is known that this species shows high site fidelity (individuals

often stay in or return to the same location). This ray also interacts socially with other individuals within its

own species.

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