Found on sandy bottoms , seagrass beds , lagoons and the reef face . Common in bays and estuaries. Observed singly, in pairs and in aggregations. Buries in the sand during the day and forages at night, usually in seagrass beds . Feeds mainly on bivalves and worms and also takes shrimps, crabs and small fishes . Feeds by creating depressions in the sand to expose invertebrates and small fishes. Ovoviviparous, with 3-4 in a litter . May be found in cleaning stations where they are attended to by the bluehead wrasse and Spanish hogfish. Equipped with a well-developed serrated spine and capable of inflicting a painful laceration. Easily approached by divers .
- Rays fan their "wings" to move sand away from buried prey , such as crabs and other invertebrates .
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in Chinese:
Common Names in Danish:
Pigrokke, Pilrokke, Vestatlantisk pigrokke
Common Names in Dutch:
Amerikaanse pijlstaartrog, Pijlstaartrog, Stekelrog
Common Names in English:
Kit, southern stingray, stingaree, Stingray, Whip stingray
Common Names in Finnish:
Common Names in French:
Pastenague Am?ricaine, Pastenague Am, Pastenague américaine
Common Names in German:
Common Names in Greek:
Sálahi trygéna, Trig, Trigóna
Common Names in Greek, Modern:
Sálahi Trygéna, Trigóna
Common Names in Greek, Modern (1453):
Sálahi trygéna, Trigóna
Common Names in Italian:
Common Names in Japanese:
Common Names in Mandarin Chinese:
Common Names in Norwegian:
Common Names in Papiamento:
Common Names in Polish:
Common Names in Portuguese:
Arraia, Raia-cravadora, Raia-lixa, Raia-prego
Common Names in Russian:
Kit, хвостокол американский
Common Names in Serbian:
Siba zutulja, Volina
Common Names in Spanish:
Pastinaca, Raya, Raya americana, Raya Chucho, Raya L, Raya látigo, raya látigo blanca, raya lÃ¡tigo blanca, Raya verde, Raya-l?tigo Americana, Rayal, Rayalátigo americana, Rayalátigo arrecifal
Common Names in Swedish:
Stingrocka, Västindisk spjutrocka
Common Names in Turkish:
Common Names in Wayuu:
Species Dasyatis americana
Distinctive Features: The flattened pectoral fins form a disc that
continues anterior to the head
and posterior to the pelvic
The disc of D. americana
is diamond-shaped, making it more angular than discs of other rays.
The head is elevated
and contains spiracles that enable the ray to
take in water dorsally
while lying on the seabed. The gills
expel water, are located ventrally. The disc is approximately 1.2
times as broad as it is long. The tail is rounded
anterior to the
spine. Posterior to the spine, the tail is flattened dorsoventrally.
The dorsal tail fold is extremely reduced, while the ventral fold
is highly developed. The ventral fold originates directly below the
tail spine and extends posteriorly almost to the tip
of tail. The
tail, measured from the cloaca
to the tip, can reach lengths
as long as the body measured from cloaca to the tip of snout. As
with other rays, the tail spine of D.
americana is thought to be derived from modified scales
between the outer margins
of the eye orbits approximates
tail spine length. The spine is round
, but slightly flattened dorsoventrally
with 52-80 teeth on either side.
Dentition: Southern stingrays have multiple rows of teeth that are relatively uniform in size except for somewhat smaller teeth near the outer corners of the mouth . Females and immature males have teeth that are tetragonal with rounded corners. Teeth of mature males have low conical cusps .
Denticles : Dermal denticles , characteristic of elasmobranchs, are sporadic in Myliobatiformes. As the ray develops, tubercles form sporadically on the disc. Tubercles are modified scales that slope anteriorly and point posteriorly. They are present from the nuchal region down the midpoint of the midline and begin to decrease again posteriorly. Smaller tubercles also occur at the shoulder region, between the eye orbits and spiracles. Larger specimens may have small tubercles in the tail spine region. Tubercles on females are typically more pronounced and densely packed than those on males.
Dorsal coloration varies between dark gray, green, and brown. Ventral coloration is predominantly white with dorsal coloration often bleeding over the edges of the disc onto the ventral surface. Color intensity may decrease around the head region.
The southern stingray reaches a maximum disc width of 79 inches (200cm) and weight of 214 lbs (97 kg ). Little is known about its average life span and growth rate . Males are commonly 90 cm (Width of Disc) in length when caught/marketed, but may be as large as 200 cm (Width of Disc).
Like many other rays, D.
americana prefers shallow coastal or estuarine
, although they have been observed in depths to
180 feet (53 m
). As a bottom dweller, the southern stingray avoids
walls and large reef structures where it is difficult to feed
rays have been netted
in water temperatures
ranging from 82-90°F
(28-32 °C), and at depths of 12 feet (3.7 m). These animals have
been observed alone, in pairs, and less frequently in large aggregations.
May be found at depths of 0 to 53 meters.
A coastal marine
species associated with sand
flats, seagrass beds
, and coral
reefs at depths of 0 to 53 m.
buries in soft sediments.
Litters of 2 to 10 pups are born at 17 to 34 cm disc width (DW), after a gestation of 4.5 to 7.5 months, and maturity is reached at 51 and 75 to 80 cm DW (males and females, respectively). Reproduction is biannual in captivity, annual in the wild. Maximum size is 150 cm DW (Henningsen 2000, McEachran and de Carvalho 2002, D. Grubbs and J. Musick unpublished data ).
The diet of this species has been studied in the Bahamas (Randall 1967, Gilliam and Sullivan 1993), Brazil (Queiroz et al. 1993) and the eastern USA (D. Grubbs, unpublished data) and consists of benthic and infaunal invertebrates and demersal teleosts. The most common prey are decapod crustaceans such as alphaeid, penaeid and callianasid shrimp and brachyuran crabs.
Life history parameters
Age at maturity (years): Unknown.
Size at maturity (disc width): 75 to 80 cm DW (McEachran and de Carvalho 2002) (female); 51 cm DW (McEachran and de Carvalho 2002) (male).
Longevity (years): Unknown.
Maximum size (disc width): 150 cm DW (McEachran and de Carvalho 2002).
Size at birth: 17 to 19 cm DW (McEachran and de Carvalho 2002, D. Grubbs and J. Musick unpublished data); mean 23.8 cm DW, range 20 to 34 cm DW (in captivity) (Henningsen 2000).
Average reproductive age (years): Unknown.
Gestation time: Mean 5.8 months; range 4.5 to 7.5 months (in captivity) (Henningsen 2000).
Reproductive periodicity: Biannual (in captivity) (Henningsen 2000); Annual (Florida and Virginia, USA) (D. Grubbs unpublished data).
Average annual fecundity or litter size : 2?7 (D. Grubbs and J. Musick unpublished data); mean 4.2, maximum 10 (in captivity) (Henningsen 2000).
Annual rate of population increase: Unknown.
Natural mortality : Unknown..
List of Habitats :
- 9 Marine Neritic
- 9.1 Marine Neritic - Pelagic
- 9.8 Marine Neritic - Coral Reef
- 9.9 Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
- 9.10 Marine Neritic - Estuaries
- 10 Marine Oceanic
- 10.1 Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
- 12 Marine Intertidal
- 12.5 Marine Intertidal - Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses)
- 13 Marine Coastal/Supratidal
- 13.4 Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes [more info]
Feeding constantly during the day and night, D. americana feeds on large epibenthic prey such as teleosts and crustaceans. Other prey include stomatopods, mollusks, and annelids . It feeds by slowly grazing along the sandy ocean floor, relying on electro-reception combined with a strong sense of smell and touch.
Males become sexually mature at 20 inches (51cm) disc width (DW), while females mature at 29.5-31.5 inches (75-80cm) DW. A captive study has indicated a biannual reproductive cycle, however, this is still under investigation. As with other rays, development of D. americana occurs through aplacental viviparity. The embryo subsists on a yolk sac for nourishment early in development. When the yolk sac is absorbed, nourishment is provided through uterine milk from maternal secretions rather than via a placenta. Gestation takes 4-11 months and litter sizes range from 2-10 pups , with an average of 4 pups per litter. Unlike D. sabina, there is a direct correlation between litter size and size of the female. Pup size in captivity ranges from approximately 7.9 to 13.4 inches (20-34 cm) DW and weight varies from 0.6 to 2.5 lbs (282-1128 g). The pups have long, slender tails and broad wing-like pectoral fins at birth.
D. americana is preyed on by many species of sharks and other large fishes .
While trematode ectoparasites are common on these stingrays, infestation is not prolific. However, the overall parasite load for D. americana, as for many elasmobranchs, can be extensive. As a result, they have been observed to participate in a symbiotic relationship with cleaner wrasses . D. americana has been observed visiting cleaner wrasse cleaning stations for periods of time ranging from 1-26 minutes.
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Order: Rajiformes ()
- Superorder: Batoidea ()
- Cohort: Neoselachii ()
- Infraclass: Euselachii ()
- Subclass: Elasmobranchii ()
- Class: Chondrichthyes ()
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Status: Accepted Name
First described: Hildebrand, Samuel F., and William C. Schroeder Fishes of Chesapeake Bay Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Fisheries, vol. 43, pt . 1;388, 1928.
Last scrutiny: Data last modified by FishBase 18-Oct-2000
Members of the genus Dasyatis
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 57 species and subspecies in this genus:
D. acutirostra (Sharpnose Stingray) · D. akajei (Japanese Red Stingray) · D. altavela (Brown Stingray) · D. americana (Southern Stingray) · D. annotata (Brown Stingray) · D. aspera (Frilltailed Stingray) · D. bennetti (Bennet's Stingray) · D. brevicaudata (New Zealand Short-Tail Stingaree) · D. brevicaudatus (Smooth Short-Tailed Stingray) · D. brevis (Diamond Stingray) · D. centroura (Roughtail Stingray) · D. chrysonota (South African Blue Stingray) · D. chrysonota chrysonota (Blue Stingray) · D. chrysonota marmorata (Marbled Stingray) · D. colarensis (Colares Stingray) · D. dipterura (Rat-Tailed Stingray) · D. dipterurus (Sharpsnout Stingray) · D. fluviorum (Brown Stingray) · D. garouaensis (Smooth Freshwater Stingray) · D. geijskesi (Giant Stumptail Stingray) · D. gigantea (Giant Stumptail Stingray) · D. guttata (Longnose Stingray) · D. guttatus (Longnose Stingray) · D. hastata (Hawaiian Stingray) · D. hypostigma (Groovebelly Stingray) · D. izuensis (Izu Stingray) · D. kuhli (Mekong Freshwater Stingray) · D. kuhlii (Blue-Spotted Stingaree) · D. laevigata (Yantai Stingray) · D. laosensis (Mekong Freshwater Stingray) · D. lata (Brown Stingray) · D. latus (Broad Stingray) · D. leylandi (Brown-Reticulate Stingray) · D. longa (Longtail Stingray) · D. longus (Longtail Stingray) · D. margarita (Guinean Stingray) · D. margaritella (Pearl Stingray) · D. marianae (Brazilian Large-Eyed Stingray) · D. marmorata (Marbled Stingray) · D. matsubarai (Pitted Stingray) · D. microps (Thickspine Giant Stingray) · Gymnura poecilura (Pacific Whiptail Stingray) · D. multispinosa (Multispine Giant Stingray) · D. navarrae (Blackfish Stingray) · D. parvonigra (Dwarf Black Stingray) · D. pastinaca (Blue Stingray) · D. pastinacus (Common Stingray) · D. rudis (Smalltooth Stingray) · D. sabina (Atlantic Stingray) · D. say (Bluntnose Stingray) · D. sayi (Bluntnose Stingray) · D. sinensis (Chinese Stingray) · D. thetidis (Longtail Black Stingray) · D. tortonesei (Tortonese's Stingray) · D. ushiei (Ushi Stingray) · D. violacea (Pelagic Stingray) · D. zugei (Pale-Edged Stingray)
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- Final environmental impact statement prepared on the proposed Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. [Washington, D.C.]: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Coastal Zone Management,  url p. 16.
- Fishery bulletin / U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service. Washington, D.C.: The Service: url p. 380, p. 439, p. 540, p. 791.
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- FishBase. Release date: January 5, 2010
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Accessed March 04, 2008. http://www.gbif.org Mediated distribution data from 5 providers.
- Grubbs, D.R., Snelson, F., Piercy, A., Rosa, R.S. & Furtado, M. 2006. Dasyatis americana. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloadedon 31January2012.
- IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. . Downloaded on January 28, 2012.
- McEachran, John (from FishBase).
- Nancy Passarelli and Andrew Piercy.Florida Museum of Natural History
- Ruggiero M., Gordon D., Bailly N., Kirk P., Nicolson D. (2011). The Catalogue of Life Taxonomic Classification, Edition 2, Part A. In: Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2011 Annual Checklist (Bisby F.A., Roskov Y.R., Orrell T.M., Nicolson D., Paglinawan L.E., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., Ouvrard D., eds). DVD; Species 2000: Reading, UK.
Accessed through GBIF Data Portal March 04, 2008:
- Canadian Museum of Nature: Canadian Museum of Nature Fish Collection
- FishBase: FishBase DiGIR Provider - Philippine Server
- GBIF-Sweden: Fishes (NRM)
- Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University: Canadian Museum of Nature - Fish Collection (OBIS Canada)
- Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University: iziko South African Museum - Shark Collection
- Marine Science Institute, UCSB: Paleobiology Database
- Museum national d'histoire naturelle: Ichtyologie
- UNIBIO, IBUNAM: CNPE/Coleccion Nacional de Peces
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 125659
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: Fis-29906
- Fishbase Species ID: 1247
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 13289914
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 160951
- IUCN ID: 204537
- Natural Heritage Network Species Identifier: AFDFE01020
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 108991
- Michael, S.W. (1993). Reef sharks and rays of the world. A guide to their identification, behavior, and ecology. Sea Challengers, Monterey, California. 107 p. [back]
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- Lieske, E. and R. Myers (1994). Collins Pocket Guide. Coral reef fishes. Indo-Pacific & Caribbean including the Red Sea. Haper Collins Publishers, 400 p. [back]
- Grubbs, D.R., Snelson, F., Piercy, A., Rosa, R.S. & Furtado, M. 2006. Dasyatis americana. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 January 2012. [back]