White-Spotted Eagle Ray
Common Name: Spotted Eagle Ray
Scientific Name: Aetobatus Narinari
The White-Spotted Eagle Ray in Queensland grows to at least 3m disc width. It has a rounded head with a duck like bill or rounded snout. The top part of the body is covered in numerous white spots on black or bluish background. It is white below. It has a long whip like tail, with usually one short spine (can have up to five) near the base, behind a small dorsal fin.
The ray feeds mainly on bivalves, but also eats shrimps, crabs, octopus and worms, whelks, and small fish. It eats by crushing its food with a series of flat, plate-like teeth in a protrusive mouth. Groups of eagle rays sometimes invade coral reef lagoons to feed with the incoming tide.
The White-Spotted Eagle Ray is a benthic species, meaning it feeds on the bottom of the ocean. However, it often swims close to the surface and occasionally makes spectacular leaps high out of the water. It frequently forms large schools during the non-breeding season.
The White-Spotted Eagle Rays have been known to live for over 26 years, but they can begin breeding at a relatively early age of 4-6 years. Pups are born at about 26cm disc width, and females may carry more than one embryo at different stages of development. The White-Spotted Eagle Ray reproduces by a technique called ovoviviparity. This means young form from eggs within the mother's body and remains there until they are ready to be born. When the young emerge, they are born live, with only a membrane from which to break out.
Unlike many other species of sharks and rays, which have a seasonal reproductive cycle, females of this species may be continuously pregnant throughout the year. As such, the White-Spotted Eagle Ray is reported to bear litters of up to 4, but it usually only carries 1 or 2 young.
Commonly found in shallow inshore waters such as bays and coral reefs, but may cross oceanic basins. They sometimes enter estuaries.
Special Features or Habits
A special feature of the White-Spotted Eagle Ray is their ability to make spectacular leaps high out of the water and they are one of the only rays to do this. They also form large schools in the water column.
Location or Region Found
The White-Spotted Eagle Ray is distributed worldwide in tropical and warm temperate, coastal waters. In Australia it is recorded from Shark Bay, Western Australia, to Sydney, New South Wales. It is common in Queensland waters and is often seen by divers around Moreton Bay, the Great Barrier Reef and other locations.