Little Ray Stingray and Shark Book
July 2017 by V. R. Duin

FISHY FISH,
STINGRAYS AND SHARKS

Sometimes when we trip or fumble,
Teamwork may just stop our stumble.
That's why we must always show respect
To help that comes as we least expect.
(“Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up”)

“Fishy Fish” expands the information in the children's book,“Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up” to help children compare stingrays and sharks and explore the differences between these fish relatives.

“Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up” is a stingray and shark book for children. Like Fishy Fish, the book helps children compare stingrays and sharks and learn the differences between these fish relatives. Stingrays and sharks are relatives with a lot in common. However, there are differences that make it hard for these family members to get along.

Stingrays and sharks are fish. These fish relatives do not have bones. Instead, they are made of cartilage. The illustrations in Little Ray's stingray and shark book for children make it easy to compare stingrays and sharks. These illustrations make a lot of things clear about the similarities and differences in the appearance of these fishy fish.

Stingrays do not look or swim like sharks, or most other fish. Some stingrays move their flat, rounded bodies through the water in a wavy motion. Others flap their fins like bird wings, and soar through the water. Stingrays swim with their fins, while sharks use their tails to propel themselves through the water. Sharks generally cruise at a leisurely speed that shows their swimming command of the water.

Since sharks do not thrive in captivity, their speeds have not been precisely measured. In any event, stingrays and sharks in captivity have little reason to reach top speeds. Moreover, there are many different species of stingrays and sharks. As children compare stingrays and sharks and explore the differences between these fish relatives, they learn each of these fishy fish has different swimming speeds and styles.

A stingray's mouth is under its body, as are its nostrils and gills. The eyes are on the top of the body. Although their eyesight is weak, this eye position helps stingrays keep watch while they are partially hidden in the ocean floor. This is how these fishy fish spend most of their time. Sharks spend most of their time on the move, hunting for prey. Unlike the eyes of stingrays, sharks' eyes are on the sides and very useful for spotting food. A shark's mouth also is located below its skull, but it is generally larger and more destructive than that of a stingray.

These fishy fish relatives have tongue-like structures, but their taste buds are located throughout their mouths. No doubt, they savor food. Rays and sharks also can vomit to rid themselves of indigestible food or to make room for the next meal. As children compare stingrays and sharks and explore the differences between them, they also learn how fish compare to and differ from people.

Sharks spend most of their time on the prowl for food. Their hunts take them to shallow and deep waters. Along the way, sharks eat a variety of foods, including fish, squid and mammals, be these living, dying or dead. Sharks can handle large bites and deep ocean depths. Like sharks, some stingrays are swimmers that hunt for small fish and other foods in the water.

Unlike sharks, stingrays generally stay in shallow waters. Fortunately, there are plenty of fish in their hunting grounds. Other stingrays are strictly bottom feeders. These fishy fish dine on snails, crabs, worms, clams and other creatures they stir up from the ocean floor. Unlike sharks, stingrays prefer small, fresh, live catches. However, in captivity, stingrays learn to eat processed foods. As children compare stingrays and sharks and explore the differences between these fish relatives, they also learn a lot about animal habits and survival.

While hunting, both stingrays and sharks improve their effectiveness with electro-receptors that detect electrical charges emitted by their prey. A group of sharks is called a shiver, which makes sense. The bite of a shark can be very dangerous to humans. A group of stingrays is called a fever, which also makes sense. A fever can result from the venomous stings of stingrays.

The bite of a stingray is fairly mild. A stingray might shed an occasional tooth, while crunching food with hard shells. That tooth will be replaced. As children compare stingrays and sharks and explore the differences between these fishy fish relatives, they learn lifespan of stingrays is significantly shorter and they shed far fewer teeth.

Sharks are in serious need of a tooth fairy, as they shed tens of thousands of teeth in their lifetimes, which can span one hundred years. Sharks' teeth are longer versions of the dermal “denticles” covering their bodies. Shark teeth are arranged in rows that slowly move forward from the back of the jaw to the front. As the front teeth wear out or fall out, new rows move from behind to replace them. These shark teeth replacements happen about every two weeks.

Different sharks have different shaped teeth depending on what food they eat. Sharks that eat shellfish and crabs have flat crushing teeth. Sharks that eat fish have pointed teeth and those that sometimes eat seals and sea lions have razor sharp teeth. Stingray teeth are small and flat. Their teeth also are replaced much like sharks' teeth.

Sharks and stingrays have scales that are made of the same structure as their teeth and stinging spines. Some sharks also have stinging spines, but the location is different from that of stingrays. These scales of these cartilaginous fish are called dermal “denticles”. The scales are arranged in a regular pattern in sharks and in an irregular pattern in stingrays. Shark scales feel like sandpaper to human touch.

Unlike other types of fish scales, the scales of stingrays and sharks do not get larger as the fish grows. Instead, the fish grows more scales to fill in the larger space. In primitive times, shark skin was used as sandpaper. However, it can be hazardous to produce, so it is no longer commonly used for this purpose. If the dermal “denticles” are removed, shark skin is used to make leather products. Unsurprisingly, the dermal “denticles” of a shark can injure prey.

Stingrays prefer shallow waters that are near shore. They migrate to warm parts of the world. Sharks also migrate to warmer temperatures, but they are known to swim to deep, dark, cold depths. Of course, sharks also come close to shore and some species cruise along the water surface. Since most fish are cold-blooded, they take on the temperature of their environment.

As any swimmer or scuba diver knows, water drains body heat faster than air does. Wet suits and heated pools are used for human protection. Sharks have the ability to elevate the temperature of some of their body parts for protection during deep, cold hunts. Stingrays do not have this ability, but they generally stay in warm, shallow waters. As children compare stingrays and sharks and explore the differences between these fishy fish relatives, they also learn a lot about the ocean environment.

Not all stingrays or sharks are dangerous to people, but sharks have frightening reputations. It also is rare for stingrays and sharks to get along. Little Ray and the shark in his adventure work hard to develop and encourage teamwork. There is a lot of diversity among stingrays and sharks. As adults, these fish relatives can weigh from a less than pound to many tons, depending on the species.

Thailand is the place to see whale sharks. They are huge, but not dangerous. These gigantic fishy fish dwarf humans in size, but they eat plankton. To eat enough of this microscopic food to survive, the whale shark does not passively filter food. It pumps food into its mouth. Nobody knows how many giant oceanic manta rays remain in the wild. Like the whale shark, manta rays are grand in size. Instead of teeth, they use plates in their mouths to filter plankton and other food particles from the water while swimming.

As children explore the differences between these shark relatives, they also bust some myths about Sharks and Rays.

Fishy Fish Comments

  • stingray and shark together admin says:

    These fish relatives can be purchased from tropical fish stores, but stingrays and sharks don't belong in the same aquarium.

  • stingray and shark book for children admin says:

    In Little Ray's book about stingrays and sharks for children, these fish relatives travel together, so children can compare them.

    • encouraging teamworkadmin says:

      Encounters with sharks generally require protective equipment and procedures encouraging teamwork.