Stingray, Southern


Dasyatis americana


Southern stingrays are diamond-shaped bottom-dwelling species, growing up to 6-8 feet wide. They are dark brown to dark grey in color dorsally, and white in color ventrally. They have one highly developed ventral tail fold that runs almost all the way down their whip-tail.

Family

Dasyatidae

Order

Rajiformes

Class

Chondrichthyes

Range

Tropical and subtropical waters of the southern Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat

Shallow coastal waters, preferring sandy bottoms.

Life Expectancy

Little is known about the Southern stingray's life expectancy. Some believe they may have a lifespan of 15-20 years.

Sexual Maturity

Males at a size of 20 inches in disc width, females at 29.5-31.5 inches in disc width.

Diet

In the wild, Southern stingrays feed on crustaceans, mollusks, and fish. In the zoo, they are fed a diet of squid, shrimp, and silverside fish.

Status

IUCN - Data Deficient

Behaviors

Southern stingrays have been seen travelling in pairs, groups, and alone. They search for prey on the bottom of the seafloor by using electroreceptors and a strong sense of smell. Southern stingrays feed constantly and their diet consists of crustaceans, mollusks, and fish. They are equipped with several rows of dental plates, or grinding plates, which are used to crush the shells of their prey. Southern stingrays have a gestation period of 4-11 months, with a litter size of 2-10 pups. The litter size depends upon the size of the female. At birth, Southern stingrays measure approximately 8 to 13.5 inches in disc width and weigh between 0.6 and 2.5 pounds. Like other stingrays, the Southern is ovoviviparous. This means they give live birth with the embryo receiving nourishment from the yolk sac. The barb is located approximately one third of the way down the tail and is only used in self-defense.

Adaptions

Like sharks and other stingrays, Bluntnose stingrays have a row of sensory cells called "Ampullae of Lorenzini" used to sense vibrations of prey and predators.

Special Interests

Stingrays, which are cartilaginous fish, do not possess a swim bladder to control buoyancy like bony fish do. Instead they have an oily liver to aid in buoyancy.

Folklore

Conservation

Jacksonville Zoo History

Our Southern Stingray became part of the Jacksonville Zoo collection in 2011.

Exhibit

Stingray Bay