General Facts About the Atlantic Stingray (Dasyatis sabina)

Prepared by Nicole Reid

 

 

Kingdom: Animal

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Chondricthyes

Subclass: Elasmobrachii

Order: Myliobatiformes

Family: Dasyatidae

Genus: Dasyatis

Species: sabina

 

Physical Description

̃    Adult body size 25-35 cm disc width, females usually larger.

̃    Disc rhomboid in shape, snout projecting as a broad-based triangle with pointed tip

̃    Brown or yellowish brown above, paler towards margin of disc

̃    Male claspers, with simple tips

 

Geographic Distribution

̃    USA, from Chesapeake Bay to Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico coast to central America.

̃    Depth range from intertidal zone to 20m (66 ft)

̃    Most common in shallow coastal areas

 

Habitat Preference

̃    Muddy, sandy bottom

̃    Bury themselves in the sand (camouflage)

 

Food and Foraging Habitat

̃    Feeds on surface, infaunal, and tube dwelling species, including tube anemones,                                                    

      Polycheate worms, small crustaceans (amphipods mole crabs, pistol shrimp), clams 

      and serpent stars

̃    Bottom dwellers, mouth is located on the ventral side

̃    Face into current while feeding, current carries the sediment away from mouth

 

Courtship and Reproductive Biology

̃    Ovoviviparity (form of live bearing)

̃    Males’ claspers near cloaca and the end region of the claspers (glans) contain tiny structures hooks, spines that open during copulation maintaining contact within the female (holding) and transferring semen.

̃    Males often initially follows the female snout close to her cloaca with some degree of nibbing and biting of the female disc

̃    Breeding period: October-March

̃    Litter size: 1-4, usually 2-3

̃    Gives birth in mid to late summer in Florida

̃    Gestation period: April-August

 

 

 

 

Defense Mechanism

̃    Stinging spines, modified dorsal fin structure that tapers to a sharp point edges are serrated

̃    Once driven into a victim sting remains. Venom is produced along two narrow grooves

 

Florida Connection

̃    St. John River has the only freshwater population in North America of any elasmobranches

 

Communication

̃    Pheromones

 

Conservation Status

̃    None

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Biglow, H.B. and William C. Schroeder. Fishes of the Western North Atlantic Part two.

     Sears Foundation for Marine Research,Yale University. 1953.

 

Micheal S.W. Reef Sharks and Rays of the World. Sea Challengers. Petaluma, Ca. 1993.

 

Tricas, T.C. et al. The Nature Company Guides Sharks and Rays. Weldon Owen. San Francisco, Ca. 1997.