The bat ray is a member of the eagle ray family that is named so because of its pectoral fins spread such that its appearance resembles that of a bat.
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Bat Ray Scientific Classification
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Size: 11.4 inches at birth, can grow up to 5.9 feet when mature.
Wingspan: Up to 6 feet.
Weight: 200 lbs.
Sexual Dimorphism: Females are larger than average size of males.
Color: Black or dark brown dorsal side, ventral side is white.
Bat rays can be found on sandy seafloors.
Their geographic range includes the eastern Pacific Ocean, from the coastline of Oregon to the Gulf of California, it can also be found near the Galapagos Islands.
- The bat ray has a venomous spine which it uses to sting potential threats.
- During birth, the spine of the pups stay flexible and covered in a sheath which sloughs off in hours after it is born to ensure that the barbed stinger does not harm the mother during delivery.
- They can live in environments with varying degrees of salinities because they are euryhaline.
- The bat ray has flat teeth packed in tight rows in its mouth to facilitate the grinding and crushing of hard-shelled prey.
- Since bat rays do not breathe through their mouths, they have openings on top of each eye called spiracles, which help in breathing.
Mating and Reproduction
Bat rays mate once a year during the seasons of spring or summer. Their copulation method includes the male sliding under the female and inserting a clasper into the cloaca of the female. They move around in synchronized wing beats for the duration of the insemination.
The gestation period lasts between 9-12 months. The breeding system is ovoviviparous.
2-10 pups are born depending on the size of the mother. The young babies don’t require parental care after birth.
They reach sexual maturity at 5 years of age.
They have been known to live for up to 23 years.
Diet: What Do Bat Rays Eat
Bat rays feeding habits and preferences include small fishes, mollusks, and crustaceans.
- Bat rays exhibit solitary characteristics, though they are spotted swimming in the thousands, sometimes even with heterospecifics.
- While it rests at the seafloor and is approached, it tends to raise itself on its wingtips with its back arched, primed to swim away if needed.
- They are known to dig trenches with their fins to reach foods that are buried in the seafloor.
- The poisonous stinger, is not considered dangerous as it only uses it as a defense mechanism when threatened or attacked.
- Bat rays are highly locomotive, moving around constantly for most the day, they are sometimes seen jumping out of the water and skimming along the surface for seconds at a time, likening the movement somewhat to flying.
White sharks, broadnose sevengill sharks, and sea lions prey on bat rays.
IUCN Conservation Status
The bat ray is categorized under Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
- Fossils of the bat ray have been found which date back to a million years.
- They are a rather popular exhibit in marine parks and aquariums, where visitors are permitted to stroke their wings.
- During yesteryears, native tribes of the Californian coast used to fish bat rays in large numbers and presumably using it as edibles.