Taeniura meyeri

Habitat: Marbled rays typically are found on sand and rubble bottoms.

Average adult size: Adults can grow to be 6 feet across.

Natural history: Rays and sharks are cousins. They both have cartilage skeletons, sandpaper skin, external gill openings and claspers for internal fertilization. But, that is where the similarities end. Most rays are flattened and their gill openings are underneath. Their pectoral fins have become enlarged into wings. Watching rays swim is one of the ocean's great joys. With a few strokes of their rounded body, marbled rays seem to glide effortlessly over the sandy bottom. The marbled ray is in the stingray family. The spine at the base of the tail can deliver a nasty wound. If you step on a ray, its natural defense is to quickly jab its tail upward, stinging its attacker. You should be careful to shuffle your feet when walking on shallow sandy bottoms. Marbled rays have small grinding teeth used to feed on shrimps, crabs, worms and snails. They bear live young that look like miniature versions of the adults.

Range: In the tropical Indo-Pacific, north to Baja, California.

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