The Southern Stingray, 10 July 2011

Dasyatis americana, the Southern stingray;
Monroe county, Florida (10 July 2011).

When I was a kid, life was actually about more than just lizards and snakes. I was also utterly enraptured by the sharks and rays that patrolled Florida’s coastlines. On the stingray front, my favorite was undoubtedly Dasyatis americana, the Southern stingray.

Reaching a wing-width of about six feet or so across (if not slightly larger), the Southern stingray is one big, serious, and awesome species of stingray. Like many of their stingray brethren, Southern stingrays are very good at sifting into and hiding within the sand. With their venomous barb located along the tail-line, the Southern stingray can aim and poke a would-be threat with that barb. Though not aggressive in the slightest, Southern stingray stinging jabs can occur if and when a person unwittingly steps on one (or tries to molest it in some other way). Thus, they are always to be treated with due respect and caution.

The “beaches” of the Florida Keys are an awesome range of habitats to observe these huge stingrays going about their lives in the plenty of time. As with many of the Caribbean isles, there aren’t many waves in the Florida Keys. More so, there’s also an abundance of clear shallows — large stretches of shallow, ultra-clear water — the kind of shallows Southern stingrays like to patrol for good eats in the sand below.

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