Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Spotted Eagle Ray Aetobatus narinari
Often solitary, spotted eagle rays also move around in huge shoals of at least a hundred individuals in open waters—a truly spectacular site when silhouetted against a sunlit surface. Unlike most other rays, the spotted eagle ray is a very active swimmer. Most of its swimming time is spent in open water, although it is also commonly seen inshore. It appears to “fly” through the water as it moves its pointed “wings”—enlarged pectoral fins—gracefully up and down. Besides the beautiful patterning of spots on its dorsal surface, another distinctive feature of the spotted eagle ray is its head, which ends in a flattened, slightly upturned snout that resembles a duck’s bill. The spotted eagle ray has a long, thin whiplike tail with a venomous spine near the base.
These rays are very agile and can twist and turn to escape predatory sharks. Sometimes, small groups of spotted eagle rays splash around at the surface, making spectacular leaps out of the water. Why they do this is not clear, but it may be to help dislodge parasites.