Once the bad-boys of the marine world, cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) are making a comeback! Famous for the large schools these rays form while migrating, they almost look like underwater kites, with their wing-like pectoral fins allowing them to fly underwater. A copper-brown color above gives way to a creamy tummy which extends to a tail that has a small, barbed spine (surprised- it’s poisonous).
With a scientific name that sounds like a Harry Potter spell, Ginglymostoma cirratum, is it any surprise that the origin of where the name "nurse shark" came from is a bit fuzzy? Some say it comes from the sucking sound they make when they find prey to eat and vacuum it up, which apparently sounds like a nursing baby? Others say it’s from the word nusse which means ‘cat shark,’ and another theory is that it comes from the Old English word for sea-floor shark, hurse.
The Coral Sea stingaree (Urolophus piperatus) is a little-known species of stingray in the family Urolophidae, found at a depth of 171–310 m (561–1,017 ft) around the edge of the continental shelf off… can you guess it? If you said the Coral Sea off of Queensland, Australia — you are correct! And according to IUCN, there may be TWO species:
“It is possible that there may be two species provisionally identified as U. piperatus based on differences between size at maturity, however no consistent intraspecific differences were found between them based on morphometric or meristic data (Séret and Last 2003).”
Ooh, exciting! We’ll see what science says as time goes on. There are no verified pictures of this animal that we could find.
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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