Fish and Coral Information
The stingrays are a family - Dasyatidae - of rays, cartilaginous fishes related to sharks. They are common in coastal tropical marine waters throughout the world, and several species are known to enter fresh water. Other types of rays also referred to as "stingrays" are the river stingrays (family Potamotrygonidae), the round stingrays (families Urolophidae and Urotrygonidae), the sixgill stingray (family Hexatrygonidae), and the deepwater stingray (family Plesiobatidae). For clarity, the members of the family Dasyatidae are sometimes called "whip-tail stingrays".While most dasyatids are relatively widespread and not currently threatened, there are several species (for example Taeniura meyeni, Dasyatis colarensis, D. garouaensis, and D. laosensis) where the conservation status is more problematic, leading to them being listed as vulnerable or endangered by IUCN. The status of several other species are poorly known, leading to them being listed as Data Deficient.
When a male is courting a female, he will follow her closely, biting at her pectoral disc.Stingrays are ovoviviparous, bearing live young in "litters" of five to thirteen. The female holds the embryos in the womb without a placenta. Instead, the embryos absorb nutrients from a yolk sac, and after the sac is depleted, the mother provides uterine "milk".
Depending on the size of the stingray, humans are usually stung in the foot region. It is less likely to be stung by brushing against the stinger. Surfers and those who enter waters with large populations of stingrays have learned to slide their feet through the sand rather than stepping, as the rays detect this and swim away. Stamping hard on the bottom as one treads through murky water will also cause them to swim away. Humans who harass stingrays have been known to be stung elsewhere, sometimes leading to fatalities. The stinger usually breaks off in the wound. This is not fatal to the stingray as it will be regrown at a rate close to that of human fingernails (about .5-.75 inches per month). Contact with the stinger causes local trauma (from the cut itself), pain and swelling from the venom, and possible later infection from bacteria. Immediate injuries to humans include, but are not limited to: poisoning, punctures, severed arteries, and possibly death. Fatal stings are very rare, but can happen.Treatment for stings includes application of near-scalding water, which helps ease pain by denaturing the complex venom protein, and antibiotics. Immediate injection of a local anesthetic in and around the wound is very helpful, as is the use of opiates such as intramuscular pethidine. Local anesthetic brings almost instant relief for several hours. Any warm to hot fluid, including urine, may provide some relief. Vinegar and papain are ineffective. Pain normally lasts up to 48 hours, but is most severe in the first 30–60 minutes and may be accompanied by nausea, fatigue, headaches, fever, and chills. All stingray injuries should be medically assessed; the wound needs to be thoroughly cleaned, and surgical exploration is often required to remove any barb fragments remaining in the wound. Following cleaning, an ultrasound is helpful to confirm removal of all the fragments. Not all remnants are radio-opaque; but x-ray radiography imaging may be helpful where ultrasound is not available.
Rays are edible, and may also be caught as food by fishing lines or spears. Stingray recipes abound throughout the world, with dried forms of the wings being most common. For example, in Singapore and Malaysia, stingray is commonly barbecued over charcoal, then served with spicy sambal sauce. In Iceland, eating pickled stingray ("kæst skata") on December 23 is an old tradition. Generally, the most prized parts of the stingray are the wings, the "cheek" (the area surrounding the eyes), and the liver. The rest of the ray is considered too rubbery to have any culinary uses.While not independently valuable as a food source, the stingray's capacity to damage shell fishing grounds can lead to bounties being placed on their removal.
Stingrays are usually very docile, their usual reaction being to flee any disturbance. Nevertheless, certain larger species may be more aggressive and should only be approached with caution by humans, as the stingray's defensive reflex may result in serious injury or death. Dasyatids are not normally visible to swimmers, but divers and snorkelers may find them in shallow sandy waters, more so when the water is warm. In the Cayman Islands there are several dive sites called Stingray City, Grand Cayman, where divers and snorkelers can swim with large southern stingrays (Dasyatis Americana) and watch while professional scuba instructors feed them by hand. There is also a "Stingray City" in the sea surrounding the Caribbean island of Antigua. It consists of a large, shallow reserve where the rays live, and snorkeling is possible.In Belize off the island of Ambergris Caye there is a popular marine sanctuary called Hol Chan. Here, divers and snorkelers often gather to watch stingrays and nurse sharks that are drawn to the area by tour operators who feed the animals.Many Tahitian island resorts regularly offer guests the chance to "feed the stingrays and sharks". This consists of taking a boat to the outer lagoon reefs then standing in waist-high water while habituated stingrays swarm around, pressing right up against tourists seeking food from their hands or that being tossed into the water. The boat owners also "call in" sharks which, when they arrive from the ocean, swoop through the shallow water above the reef and snatch food offered to them.
The skin of the ray (same) is used as an under layer for the cord or leather wrap (ito) on Japanese swords (katanas) due to its hard, rough, texture that keeps the braided wrap from sliding on the handle during use. They are also used to make exotic shoes. They are used to make boots, belts, wallets, jackets, and even cellphone cases.