Gigantic stingray cruises casually past unsuspecting scuba diver
Spotted eagle rays are a rare and spectacular sight for scuba divers. Their ornate markings and enormous wingspan make them a sight to behold. Powerful and graceful, they glide over the reef, seemingly effortlessly. They grow more than 3m across (10 feet) and can weigh as much as 230kg (500lbs). They have a long tail that is equipped with numerous venomous barbs. An injury from a stingray can be life-threatening, but these animals never attack humans. Any injuries documented have been the result of accidents or improper behaviour on the part of the person injured.
Spotted eagle rays feed on fish, crustaceans, and conch, having the ability to crush a large shell in their powerful jaws to get to the meat inside.
While scuba diving in Belize, this gigantic ray casually swam up behind and along side an unsuspecting diver who just happened to have the camera at the ready. Initially shocked to see this massive animal so close, the diver raised the camera to capture a beautiful video clip as the ray passed. The scuba diver followed along as the ray continued slowly over the coral and out to deeper water.
Stingrays have thousands or receptors in their wings that enable them to detect very subtle electric impulses from prey buried in the sand beneath them. They can dig with their snouts or beat their wings to clear the sand to get at their prey beneath. Highly intelligent, the eagle ray exhibits a behaviour similar to human curiosity and they will often slow and circle swimmers to get a better look. Spotted eagle rays have been seen following humans and they will quickly catch on if the human lifts rocks or debris that exposes food beneath. The eagle ray will move in and eat what is disturbed and left unsheltered. The eagle ray is smart enough to repeat this behaviour, waiting patiently for each opportunity to feed.
The eagle ray is a preferred food for large sharks. Their tail spines are designed to be used as a defense if the ray is attacked from behind or above by a predator. Due to predation and also bycatch from the fishing industry, the spotted eagle ray is declining in numbers and is now listed as near threatened. To lose such beautiful and gentle creatures would be an extreme tragedy.