Spotted Eagle rays call the Xcalak National Marine Park home in the winter months (December-March) and it is a magical sight when they are gliding in the La Poza channel. They cruise quickly and effortlessly past divers, or stay in place rooting through the sand for their next meal. We can also spot them from the boat while touring through the mangrove inlets on our snorkel tours. Yet for how often they appear for us, some facts about Spotted Eagle Rays are still a mystery to scientists. Here is some of what we know:
COMMON NAME: Spotted Eagle Ray
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Aetobatus narinari
FAMILY: Myliobatidae (Eagle rays)
SIZE: Up to 10ft (3m) wide, 16ft (5m) long
WEIGHT: 500 lbs (230 kg)
CONSERVATION STATUS: According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), they are listed as Near Threatened. Spotted Eagle Ray populations are in decline as they are threatened by fishing activities and collection for the marine aquarium trade.
HABITAT & RANGE: Tropical waters globally. Often found in coral reefs, occasionally entering lagoons and mangroves.
DIET: Small fish, clams, oysters, sea urchins, shrimp. Can be seen digging through the sandy ocean floor for their prey, and they use their plate-like teeth to crush the shells.
BREEDING: Mature around 4-6 years, but the average age of reproduction is unknown. It is estimated that the gestation period is about 12 months, but may also be less. Give birth from 1-4 live pups, and scientists do not know if they reproduce yearly or with a longer gap between litters.
Reference: oceana.org, iucnredlist.org