Spotted Eagle Rays: More Than Meets the Eye

New research indicates that the spots that give spotted eagle rays their name form a pattern unique to each individual animal!

Published January 25, 2017

After extensive photo identification of spotted eagle rays in Chacahua Lagoon in Oaxaca, Mexico, a team of scientists led by Maria del Socorro González-Ramos of Mexico’s Instituto Politécnico Nacional have concluded that each ray’s dramatic patterning across the dorsal side of the body is one-of-a-kind.  spotted-eagle-rays

Photo courtesy of Jeff Mauritzen.

Photo identification has also been used to show the individual qualities of humpback whales’ tail flukes and great white sharks’ dorsal fins. Here at the Aquarium, we rely on small differences in the shape and color of the blacktip reef sharks’ dorsal fins to help tell them apart.

Spotted eagle rays inhabit tropical waters worldwide, preferring the shallower areas near coral reefs and the occasional estuary. They are known to be a rather social species, crossing open waters in large schools and returning to the same areas to mate and give birth.

These rays can reach over 8 feet in length. Like other ray species, spotted eagle rays have a long tail with venomous spines.

Learn more about the study of the spotted eagle rays’ spots in Hakai Magazine. 

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