.
 
Subj:.....Stingray Migraton (S632)
          From: darrellvip on 2/20/2009

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-
........1029013/The-great-ocean-migration--thousands-
........majestic-stingrays-swim-new-seas.html


 
 
 
 

. .
.
The great ocean migration... thousands
of majestic stingrays swim to new seas
     By Marcus Dunk
. .
. .
Like autumn leaves floating in a sunlit pond, this vast expanse of magnificent stingrays animates the bright blue seas of the Gulf of Mexico. 

Taken off the coast of Mexico's Holbox Island by amateur photographer Sandra Critelli, these breathtaking pictures capture the migration of thousands of rays as they follow the clockwise current from Mexico's Yucatan peninsula to western Florida. 
 
. .
. .
Measuring up to 6ft 6in across, poisonous golden cow-nose rays migrate in groups  -  or 'fevers'  -  of up to 10,000 as they glide their way silently towards their summer feeding grounds.

They migrate twice yearly: north in late spring (as pictured here) and south in late autumn. 

There are around 70 species of stingray in the world's oceans, but these cow-nose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) have distinctive, highdomed heads, giving them a curiously bovine appearance. 
 
 
. .
. .
But despite their placid looks, they are still armed with a poisonous stinger, which can be deadly to humans (even though sharks, their main predators, are more likely to provoke them). 

The stinger, a razor-sharp spine that grows from the creature's whip-like tail, can reach almost 15 inches in length and carries a heady dose of venom. 

It was a similar stinger that killed the hugely popular Australian naturalist Steve Irwin in 2006.
 
But even equipped with this powerful
punch, cow-nose stingrays are shy and non-threatening in large 'fevers'. Even when isolated, they will attack only
when cornered or threatened.

Unlike other stingrays, they rarely rest on the seabed (where unsuspecting humans can step on them) and prefer to be on the move.

They migrate long distances, and can be found as far south as the Caribbean and
as far north as New England. 

They use their extended pectoral fins to swim, and often turn upside down, curling their fin tips above the surface of the water  -  leaving terrified swimmers convinced that they have seen a shark.

. .
. .
Their flexible fins also come in
handy when rustling up food.  By
flapping them rapidly over the
seabed, they stir up sand and
reveal crabs, shellfish and
oysters, which they then feed on
using their powerful, grinding
teeth.

Their particular fondness for
shellfish has made them public
enemy number one with oyster
fishermen. 

But despite this, their numbers are exploding, thanks in part to rising
sea temperatures.  They mate every
winter, and females produce a litter
of five to ten young.

. .
. .
Stingrays (which are related to skates and sharks) have never been widely fished for food, mainly because of their rubbery flesh.

But barbecued stingray and dried fins are common in Singapore and Malaysia, while pickled stingray remains a traditional favourite in Iceland. 'It was an unforgettable image,' said photographer Critelli.
 
 .

.
.
.