Blue spotted ribbontail rays are named for the striking blue spots covering their body. They frequent the coral reefs and sandy flats in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, keeping close to the seafloor where they feed.
These foragers dig in the sand, hunting shallow sand-dwelling animals like shrimp and crabs. Unlike most rays, blue spotted ribbontail rays will rarely bury themselves completely,2 though they sometimes will to ambush prey or when they migrate in large groups to shallow, sandy areas.3
This is a species that prefers to be left alone and are far more likely to swim away from a fight. The blue spots are meant to tell predators and other animals to stay away. If cornered they can lash out with the poisoned barb on the end of their tails, and that venom can prove fatal to many species, including humans.3
Blue spotted ribbontail rays reproduce via eggs that grow inside the mother’s body for a period of four months to a year, and live rays are born shortly after hatching inside the mother.4
These rays are threatened around the world due to destructive fishing practices and habitat loss.1 They are also sometimes traded in the private aquarium trade, though these rays rarely thrive in captivity.
1. Blue spotted ribbontail rays have been spotted scavenging inside shipwrecks.
2. They use electroreception to help locate prey, picking up on subtle temperature differences and electrical fields generated by other animals in the sand.
3. Female rays can have up to seven babies per litter, and the newborn rays display the distinctive blue spots at birth.4
4. Can swim into shallows during high tide and hide in caves during low tide.5
5. Usually has two venomous spines at the back tip of their tails.
Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.
5. Fish Base