Marinelife Learning Center
Photo © Scott W. Michael
Interesting facts about the ....
BLUE-SPOTTED RIBBONTAIL STINGRAY
This stunning stingray is a common resident of coral reefs. Unlike some of its kin, it does not spend the day buried under the sand. Instead, it usually slips under a table coral or a ledge at the base of a coral bommie. It comes out of its hiding place to feed on worms, crabs and small fishes. Why does this ray sport bright blue spots? It is hard to say for sure, but they may serve to warn potential predators that it has a spine on its tail that can deliver a very painful "sting". It could also be that it serves to help these rays identify each other when it is time to mate. Speaking of mating, these animals congregate in shallow water to mate. One of the blue-spotted ribbontail stingrays favorite past times is being cleaned by the bluestreak cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus). The wrasses will move over the back, inspect the orifices behind the eyes (known as spiracles) and search for parasites under the body when the ray lifts itself up on the tips of the pectoral fins (the side fins). The wrasses pick flatworm parasites of the rays, known as Trematodes. It is an easy ray to approach and photograph, especially when they are grubbing in the sand for food.
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