Southern Stingray

Dasyatis americana

About This Animal

SIZE: 5.5 ft. (1.7 m)

RANGE: Western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico

HABITAT: Sandy ocean bottoms, seagrass beds, lagoons and coral reefs

DIET: Mollusks, worms, shrimps, crabs and small fishes

ON EXHIBIT:  Gulf of Mexico and Secret Reef

The southern stingray exhibits ovoviviparous reproduction. That means the female produces eggs that are retained and nourished in the reproductive system until the young, called pups, are mature enough to be released to the outside. The young stingrays are small replicas of an adult. Stingrays have one or two venomous spines located at the base of their whip-like tails. The spines are used only as a defensive mechanism for protection. Because they like to lie on the bottom (often covered in sand), it is wise to shuffle one's feet while walking on a sandy ocean floor. The venomous spine produces a puncture wound that is extremely painful and swelling with hospitalization being a strong possibility. Death can occur, but it is extremely rare. Stingrays have "molarform" teeth that act as crushing plates.