Tierney Thys and Southern Sting Rays!

southernstingray

Hi from the beautiful Central American country of Belize! I’ve been swimming with southern sting rays, Dasyatis americana off the island of Caye Caulker and checking out its amazing ability to remain hidden on the seafloor. Sting rays ruffle along the seafloor sucking up shrimps, crabs and other little crustaceans with their mouths located on their undersides. The hidden prey give off electrical signals that these clever rays can sense. When rays need to hide from predators like hammerhead sharks, they can bury themselves in soft sand. Now you may be wondering if their mouth in underneath them, how they can breathe under all that sand? Well, rays have a special little feature called a spiracle. It looks like a hole in the ray’s head right next to its eyes. You can see it in this picture, right next to his eye. Inside the spiracle is a little pump that pulls fresh oxygen rich water in and over the ray’s gills. That way, they can hide for a long time—that is until a curious biologist like me comes along!!

HQ