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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
User is currently offline
on Friday, 22 March 2013
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Friday Creature Feature: Southern Stingray

At Stingray City in the Cayman Islands, the place to go for all your stingray needs, tourists can interact Southern-Stringray-wiki-2with the southern stingray (Dasyatis americana). You can pet, feed, swim, kiss, and take photos with stingrays in the shallow waters of the Caribbean and all of this is available with one easy payment of $44.44! (No CODs, shipping yourself to Grand Cayman not included.)

These vacation memories will eventually go viral and land the human subjects of the photo on the talk show circuit explaining to the five people left who still watch daytime television what the word “photobomb” means.  

Stingray City, a tropical petting zoo, was the subject of a study published this month on PLOS ONE that explored the impact “interactive ecotourism” is having on the stingrays.

The study was conducted by researchers at Nova Southeastern University's Guy Harvey Research Institute in Hollywood, Florida and the University of Rhode Island.

For two years scientists studied the southern population of stingrays in the City and compared them to wild stingrays that don’t live in the City.  They observed behavioral changes that can be described with the phrase: “It’s like the difference between night and day.”

The southern stingray is a nocturnal marine creature that floats along the seabed looking for small fish to eat. It’s generally anti-social but not aggressive unless provoked, and prefers to rest during the day. But for City stingrays it’s the opposite: they feed during the day when the tourists are out and rest at night, they hang out in schools, and attack each other more frequently than wild stingrays.

The southern stingray can be found in the western Atlantic as far north as the New Jersey coast, in the northern Gulf of Mexico, and in the waters of southern Brazil.

They are flat and diamond-shaped with dark brown upper bodies and white bellies. Males are approximately 2 to 3 feet across while females are slightly bigger at 4 feet across. Their tail can be twice as long as their body and is used as a self-defense weapon. The tail has a long, serrated, and poisonous spine at the base that is not fatal to humans when used but probably doesn’t feel pleasant to step on.

The IUCN Red List has the southern stingray categorized (and here is a new phrase to discuss) as “Data Deficient.” That means the animal has been evaluated but there isn’t enough data available globally to place it under a more definite category. I bet all those stingray petting zoos are distorting the data.

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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