Friday, July 8, 2011

Creature Feature: Blue Spotted Ribbontail Ray.


OK, so it's not as cute as we remembered it. Sue us. It's still one hell of a trippy ray, even if it is not necessarily cute.

The Blue Spotted Ribbontail ray (Taeniura lymma) is found throughout the warmer parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It eats molluscs, sea worms (which are pretty cool in their own right), shrimp, and small bony fishes. Surprise, surprise, it's found in weirdness hotspots like Indonesia, Australia, and Madagascar. It usually stays on the bottom of coral reefs, and can also be found in tide pools and beds of seagrass.

Feeling a sense of deja vu? That's because this little ray has a lot in common with the blue-ringed octopus, another brightly colored creature that's toxic to boot. Although not as poisonous, the sting from one of these rays still hurts. Please stay away if you see a blue-streaked tail sticking up out of the sand.

Or you might be on drugs, in which case stay the eff out of the ocean. :)

Blue-spotted rays are one of many types of chondricthians (sharks, rays, skates etc.) that bear live young. These rays give birth by "aplacental vivipary." The baby rays feed on yolk and uterine milk (mucous, protein, and fat - essentially gourmet snotballs) until they are finally pushed out of mommy ray's belly. They look more or less like adult rays, only smaller. Aww!

Like tiny, acid-drenched pancakes that can sting you!

Pretty though these little rays are, do not try to get one as a pet. The ray is considered near-threatened due to toxic fishing in its area. Moreover, captive rays of this sort have notoriously short lifespans in captivity. Many of them die almost as soon as they are brought into captivity. Even rays that look perfectly healthy develop unknown complications and die. They have no less than five species of tapeworm associated with them, but remain one of the most common rays in the aquarium trade. Stick with lionfish if you want a really impressive aquarium; at least those have a lower chance of going belly-up.

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