Everything you need to know about rays in South Australia

Everything you need to know about rays in South Australia

Don’t pan­ic if you spot a stingray swim­ming near­by this sum­mer. Fol­low these point­ers to stay out of trouble.

The odd­ly adorable stingray is mis­un­der­stood by many. Fear has been instilled in peo­ple since the trag­ic death of Croc­o­dile Hunter Steve Irwin in 2006, but it is actu­al­ly rare to die from a ray injury.

Stingrays are not aggres­sive. They are curi­ous and play­ful ani­mals when there are divers and snorkellers around, and if they feel threat­ened their first instinct is to swim away.

But as with all marine life, peo­ple must respect stingrays’ per­son­al space. So take lots of pho­tos and enjoy watch­ing them glid­ing through the water – but from afar. Nev­er threat­en or cor­ner a ray, and always keep an eye out for their tail – and nev­er touch the barb on the end of it.

Stingray shuf­fle

Sum­mer­time beach walk on your mind? On your next stroll be care­ful of rays feed­ing and rest­ing in warm shal­low waters. If you acci­den­tal­ly step on a ray, the fright­ened fish can flip up its tail and sting you with its barb.

So keep your eyes peeled or try the stingray shuf­fle. Place your feet firm­ly on the ground and slide your feet slow­ly through the sand, which will safe­ly encour­age any rays to move away.

If a stingray does acci­den­tal­ly sting you, pour hot water over the sting to ease the pain and fol­low first aid advice.

Rays in South Australia

There are about 630 species of rays world­wide. The most pop­u­lar species spot­ted in South Aus­tralian waters are the smooth ray, south­ern eagle ray, south­ern fid­dler ray and coastal stin­ga­ree.

SA’s marine parks are top spots to see stingrays, espe­cial­ly at Cof­fin Bay with­in Thorny Pas­sage Marine Park, Encounter Marine Park and at Nep­tune Islands Marine Park, as well as the shal­low waters of Bark­er Inlet in the Ade­laide Dol­phin Sanc­tu­ary.

Everything you need to know about rays in South Australia

Quick facts

  • Stingrays have been around longer than dinosaurs.
  • The moth­er gives birth to live young.
  • The dif­fer­ence between male and females is their pelvic fins. Males have two elon­gat­ed appendages known as claspers where­as females don’t have these.
  • Stingrays can breathe while feed­ing thanks to spir­a­cles – ves­ti­gial gill slits behind their eyes.
  • Some rays swim by oscil­lat­ing their body to move for­ward, while oth­ers flap their pec­toral fins and appear to be fly­ing underwater.
  • Some rays have high­ly adapt­ed eyes and can actu­al­ly see colour.
  • Rays are slimy because they are cov­ered in a mucous lay­er that helps pro­tect them from dis­ease and wound infection.
  • When feed­ing and rest­ing, stingrays bury their bod­ies in the sand but leave the barb out to pro­tect them­selves from predators.
  • Rays usu­al­ly come in to feed with a ris­ing tide and leave behind a cir­cu­lar foot­print once they have fin­ished. This is known as a feed­ing pit.

To learn more about some of SA’s marine life, check out our sto­ries about baby marine ani­mals, octo­pus­es, and oth­er weird-look­ing sea crea­tures.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in Decem­ber 2016.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living