Eagle Ray beached

An unusual find in Pearly Beach was this Eagle Ray (Myliobatis aquila) washed up near blue water bay. Eagle rays are semipelagic found inshore and offshore from North Eastern Atlantic around to Kenya. They feed on molluscs, bottom-living crustaceans and small fishes, grinding prey on a series of 7 flat tooth plates called pavement teeth, useful to crush clam shells and crustaceans. Its protection comes from 2 barbed venomous spines on the tail which can be extremely painful if embedded deep into your leg! This may only occur if the animal is trodden on or tampered with.

Reproduction is ovoviviparous which means their eggs develop inside the fish feeding from a yoke inside the egg so when they hatch the mother gives birth to 3 to 7 live young.

Rays are mostly an unwanted bycatch for South African fishermen but put up a stubborn fight if hooked, the long fight exhausts the fish by the time it’s landed. The conservation minded fisherman needs to treat the animal gently while it recovers in shallow water.

Very similar species is the Bull Ray (Pteromylaeus bovinus) which has a snout more like a ducks bill.

Eagle ray
Eagle ray spines