Stingrays are a species of fish found in most coastal waters around the world. They have many exciting features, some of which aren’t easily visible. For instance, did you know they have teeth? Well, they do! Continue reading to find out more surprising stingray facts.

1. The Largest Fresh Water Fish Ever Hauled Is a Stingray

On June 13, 2022, fishermen in the Stung Treng region of Northern Cambodia hauled the largest freshwater fish ever, according to official records. The stingray weighed about 300kg (661 lb) and measured about 4 meters (13ft) from head to tail. It was longer than a pickup truck.

2. Male Stingrays Have Two Penis-Like Organs Called Claspers for Reproduction

Located and visible near the base of a male stingray’s tail are two penis-like organs called claspers used for reproduction. They are used to fertilize their female counterparts internally.

3. Stingrays Are Venomous

Stingrays have venom, which they administer through their spinal blades or stingers. An adult’s stinger can reach up to 10 centimeters, usually in the middle of the tail. As opposed to other stinging organisms that store their venom in a gland, stingrays keep theirs within tissue cells. In humans, stingray venom can result in rapid blood flow in the superficial capillaries.

4. Stingrays Rarely Attack Humans

Naturally, stingrays aren’t aggressive; they only attack when provoked, for example, after being stepped on. They usually retaliate by using their two or three spinal blades to puncture the aggressor. However, a cut and venom from a stingray’s blade isn’t always sufficient to kill an adult human. It only results in pain, swelling, and perhaps a fungi or bacterial infection in the affected area.

5. Steve Irwin’s Death Is a Popular Proof that Stingrays Can Kill

This may sound contradictory, but Steve Irwin’s death from stingray stings was only the second ever recorded in Australian waters since 1945. You must be extremely unlucky, as was the Australian zookeeper and television programmer, to succumb to a stingray’s venom. In Irwin’s case, the stinger directly penetrated his chest and punctured his heart, resulting in massive bleeding and trauma.

6. There Were Retaliatory Attacks after Steve Irwin Died from Stingray Attack

After the death of Steve Irwin, there were retaliatory attacks where humans went on a stingray killing spree. Within a short time, more than 10 of the species were found dead and mutilated on Queensland’s coast. They only stopped when Michael Hornby, Irwin’s friend, condemned the killings, saying it wasn’t what the deceased would want.

7. They Are Closely Related to Sharks

Because they both have cartilaginous skeletons and fall under the subclass elasmobranchs, stingrays and sharks are closely related. More than 220 stingray species are available.

8. Female Stingrays Are Physically Bigger than The Males

Naturally, female stingrays are physically bigger than their male counterparts. Interestingly, the females also mature and reach sexual maturity quickly. Studies show female stingrays can live up to 22 years while the males can hardly survive to 10.

9. Stingrays Have No Bones

white and blue dolphin in water

Stingrays do not have bones. Instead, their bodies are supported by cartilages almost similar to the ones in human ears. As such, they have a very flexible and bendy appearance.

10. Stingrays Are Under Threat of Extinction

Thanks to unregulated fishing, stingrays are threatened with extinction. Over 45 species have already been listed as endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

11. They Are Edible

Stingrays are edible, something that has contributed significantly to their near extinction. They are fished using spears or fishing lines and can be found in most coastal areas around the globe. Their recipes vary depending on culture and region. For example, people in Indian states, such as Goa, usually make spicy curries with them. Others, like Malaysia and Singapore, grill them over charcoal.

12. Stingrays Are Different from Skates

Stingrays and skates are always mistaken for each other thanks to their striking resemblances. However, a quick look at their tails will tell you which one you are dealing with. Stingray tails are usually long and whip-like. On the other hand, skates’ are generally thick and fleshy.

Another difference, though not so telling, is stingrays are ovoviviparous; their eggs are laid and hatched within their bodies. Skates are oviparous; they lay their eggs then cover them with mermaid’s purses.

13. Stingrays Are Primarily Carnivorous

Stingrays are carnivorous; they feed on worms, snails, shrimp, and oysters. On the other hand, their natural predators are seals, sea lions, and other large fish.

14. Baby Stingrays Are Called Pups And Are Born Fully Developed

The young ones of stingrays are called pups, and they are born fully developed. They can feed and swim immediately after they are in the water. With that, most hardly need parental care.

15. The “Stingray Shuffle” Maneuver Can Help Avoid Being Stung By A Stingray

As stingrays often attack in self-defense and rarely go on the offensive, performing the “stingray shuffle” maneuver can help navigate safely in stingray-infested waters. The technique demands that, rather than walking by lifting your feet, shuffle them. This will cause the species to scatter away.

16. Female Stingrays Can Store Sperms from the Males For Prolonged Periods

Female stingrays can store sperm from the males for up to two years, so they can get babies without sexual contact when they want.

17. A Man Once Claimed That A Stingray Saved Him after a Shipwreck

An 18-year-old man once claimed that riding a stingray that carried him over 400 miles to safety saved him from drowning. Lottie Stevens, who was washed up to the shores of New Caledonia, called a radio station and said that he had been fishing with his colleagues when their boat capsized. The report wasn’t confirmed.

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Animals & Plants,

Last Update: December 18, 2023