Strikingly clear devil face found on unusual stingray in Tonga
Stingrays are beautiful animals that are found in most tropical waters around the world. They are also mysterious, and evening frightening to those who do not understand them. They are more intelligent than we once believed and they are resourceful and curious. Despite being harmless to humans unless provoked or threatened, they are commonly believed to be vicious and dangerous.
This southern stingray was observed in the remote waters of Tonga off the island of Vava'u. A diver was exploring the reef around the island when he came across the animal eating something in the sand. But what he saw immediately caught his eye as it appeared that the stingray had a clear image of a devil or ghostly monster face on its back. The diver was surprised at how clear and vivid the image was and he first wondered if it was simply the result of sand and dust stuck on the stingray's skin. Stingrays will often cover their backs with sand to camouflage themselves from predators. But it was clear that this image on the stingray was symmetrical and it appears to be pigmentation or permanent markings of some sort. The actual head of the stingray is darker than the rest of the stingray, which is unusual, and it forms a blotch that appears to be a mouth, gaping open ominously. Ridges where the stingrays eye sockets come to a peak are lighter coloured and they resemble two large canine teeth on the devilish face. Symmetrical eyes and a skeletal nose are visible behind the head, and there are even lighter lines and patches that appear to be two large ears. The snout of the stingray forms a lighter patch that appears to be the lower jaw of the apparition.
The overall picture is a menacing grin of a ghostly beast or devil face that is strikingly vivid and clear. As the scuba diver approaches to record this strange creature, it turned and sway away to resume its hunting in another path of sand.
Stingrays have specially adapted electroreceptors in their snouts and wings that allow them to detect prey buried beneath the sand. They beat their wings to uncover the crustaceans and mollusks that are hidden and they inhale them and eat them. The design of their bodies makes them perfectly suited for gliding over reefs and sandy bottoms in search of food.
Stingrays have their fearsome reputation due to the formidable barb in their tails. They can deliver a savage wound with the razor sharp tip and they barb is also venomous. Unwary swimmers have occasionally stepped on these animals in the shallows and have been injured in what is an unfortunate mistake. Although these creatures should be respected for their ability to defend themselves, they never attack humans and they never use the barb as a means of hunting. It is only when they feel that they, themselves are under attack that they will lash out for protection. Sharks prey on these fish by attacking them from above and behind. Mistaken incidents with swimmers are almost exclusively the result of the stingray not realizing that it was not fending off a shark.
Stingrays were further villainized when the beloved animal lover, Steve Irwin was fatally wounded in a freak accident with a stingray. His heart was pierced by the barb in what was obviously an unintentional mishap. If he had sustained the injury in any other location, he would very likely still be with us.
This stingray is a unique creature with markings that are not found on the species normally. It is a one-of-a-kind animal with this face-like image on its back. Although it is obviously not an evil creature, it does not take a lot of imagination to see this as a ghoulish devil face cruising over the ocean bottom.