Monday, 20 February 2012

The Blue-spotted Rays (Taeniura lymma )

Blue-spotted Rays  - Photo by/ Tarek Ibrahim
Blue-spotted rays, Taeniura lymma (Forsskål, 1775), aka blue-spotted fantail rays, blue spotted stingrays, blue spotted rays, and ribbontail stingrays, are colorful stingrays with large bright blue spots on an oval, elongated disc and blue side-stripes along their tails. Their snout is rounded and angular and the disc has broadly rounded outer corners. They have a short tapering tail that is less than twice their body length when intact, with a broad lower caudal finfold that extends to the tail tip. Their disc has no large thorns but does have small, flat denticles along their midback in adults. There is usually 1 medium-sized stinging spine on their tail found further from the base than most stingrays. They are gray-brown to yellow, or olive-green to reddish brown in color on their dorsal (upper) side, white on their ventral (under) side. They reach a maximum length about 70 cm. Blue-spotted rays are ovoviviparous. Distinct pairing with embrace ane bear up to 7 young at a time.

The blue spotted stingray is a stunning creature found in coral reefs. They generally spend their time hiding in the rocky or sandy bottom areas of reefs that include those found in the Red sea, the Arabian Gulf, South East Africa, southern Japan and northern Australia. Named for its distinguishable bright blue iridescent spots, the blue spotted stingray is by far one of the most attractive members of the stingray family.
Ovoviviparous: eggs are retained within the body of the female in a brood chamber where the embryo develops, receiving nourishment from a yolk sac. This is the method of reproduction for the "live-bearing" fishes where pups hatch from egg capsules inside the mother's uterus and are born soon afterward. Also known as aplacental viviparous.

The bright blue spots and dark blue stripes that run the length of the tail of the blue spotted stingray act as a warning to predators of the venomous barbs that are situated on the end of the tail. While the blue spotted stingray will use its tail to defend itself from predators, like most stingrays, they are generally peaceful creatures. The blue spotted stingray has a mouth and gills that are located on the underside of the body. Inside of the mouth are two plates that are used to crush the shells of the crustaceans the blue spotted stingray eats as its primary source of nutrition. These colorful deep-sea creatures use their mouth to scoop up their prey like a shovel. The underside of the blue spotted stingray is white, while the primary color of the body is a grayish or reddish brown. This coloration serves as a camouflaging mechanism, allowing the blue spotted stingray to blend in with the sand when viewed from above and blend in with the sunlight streaming through the water when viewed from below.
While the blue spotted stingray is most commonly found in the depths of the coral reefs, when high tide arrives they will move to the shallower reefs. Blue spotted stingrays tend to swim alone or in very small tight knit groupings. When it is time to eat, the smaller groups of stingrays will migrate into a large school, disbursing after the feeding is done back into their small groups again.


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