Cownose Ray

Rhinoptera bonasus

About This Animal

SIZE: Maximum size ever caught had a disc width of 84” (213 cm), but a more average maximum is 45” (114 cm)

RANGE: a large part of W. Atlantic and Caribbean from New England, US to S Brazil along the coastline of Maurita, Senegal and Guinea

HABITAT: Prefer shallow brackish water, but tend to swim at the surface

DIET: Mollusks, crustaceans, small fish and invertebrates

ON EXHIBIT: Stingray Bay Touch Tank and Secret Reef in Ocean Journey

This ray, which is also called a Cowfish and Skeete, belongs to the same family as Bat, Eagle and Manta Rays.  They have flat, tile-like teeth, which are ideal for crushing mollusks and crustaceans, as well as other prey.

Cownose Rays are a highly migratory species, swimming the length of the Western Atlantic coast from  Florida to the Chesapeake Bay, where they give live birth and mate. This mass migration often involves schools of over 1,000 individuals and usually occurs in late spring or early summer.  

The breeding and pupping period in the Chesapeake Bay is usually from June through October.  After the pups are old enough, the rays migrate back to Florida in late October/early November to overwinter. Female rays give birth to a single pup per year, and it takes seven years for them to reach maturity.  

Cownose Rays are the most-favored prey of sharks, especially Sandbar and Bull Sharks.  According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, Cownose Rays are listed as near-threatened.