Loving Estuary Stingrays

stingrayG’day nature lovers,

I was was walking along the foreshore yesterday and noticed some very strange behaviour from the vulnerable Estuary Stingray.

I often see the estuary ray’s when I’m kayaking or walking along the foreshore. I saw this one while walking on the boardwalk under the bridge, I spotted him swimming close by and he was huge. So I got my trusty camera out and started filming, him as he glided through the water.

I noticed him swimming over some Bangalow Palm fronds, “why are there palm fronds, here in the mangrove?” I thought. He seem to try and settle on the palm fronds. “He’s probably noticed me and is trying to take some cover”, I thought.

“That’s not a palm frond” I exclaimed to myself.  They’re, the tails of some other stingrays I realised, why is he trying to bury himself  right on top of those other rays?  Maybe he hasn’t seen them – his eyes are on top of his head after all. – How naive  am I?

Then he seemed to hover over the smaller one. “He’s looking for some loving?” I thought. They mate from July-October and part of the courtship ritual he bites her, but this usually happens at night. As I’ve never seen them mate before and to tell you the truth, I’m still sure if I have seen them mate (its was pretty quick after all).

Given the number of Estuary Stingrays I see in the Brunswick Estuary, they’re obviously doing something right [wink].

Sciencey bit

The Estuary Stingray (Dasyatis fluviorum) lives in estuarine habitats. They are  brown or tan in colour and have a row of small thorns running down the middle of the back and along their whip like tail and grow to about 130cm.

They mainly feed on shellfish and worms, but have unfortunately developed some infamy around farmed oysters. The Estuary Stingray was once common along the east-Australian coast but their population has declined due to the human impact on their habitat which includes seagrass meadows and mangrove swamps. They also get caught by recreational fishermen/women, and are considered bycatch by commercial operations.

They have been listed as vulnerable, but fortunately they seem quite abundant in the Brunswick estuary, which is also home to several vulnerable and endangered species.

[Source: The Australian Museum]

The next time you see some stingrays, get you camera/smart phone out and see if you can capture some stingray loving.

Enjoy your journey, share your stingray experiences #EcoExperincesOz  .

 

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