Little Ray and Mama Ray
May 2018 by V. R. Duin


Knowing Little Ray to be brave and young,
Mama Ray managed to hold her tongue.
After all, her boy would never ever know
What he could do without giving things a go.
(“The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”)

In this month of May in which mothers are celebrated, Mama Ray helps children learn about stingrays being born, how long stingray babies stay with their mother stingrays and how they survive to adulthood after baby stingray birth.

How do stingrays survive to adulthood? In “The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”, it is clear that without Mama Ray, there could be no baby stingrays. Mama Ray represents the love, care and protection of good mothers. Mother stingrays move to a safe area for baby stingray birth. They want their babies to be safe at the time of birth. This gives them a good start. They are more likely to survive to adulthood. Like mama dogs, Little Ray's Mama Ray may charge at an intruder. Both mothers have natural weapons to defend their pups and keep them safe. Stingrays have venomous stinging barbs for protection. Mama dogs have fangs. Without Little Ray, there would be less intrigue and less adventure in ocean life. Stingrays live for fifteen to twenty-five years. Stingray babies take a while to learn how to hunt and stay safe. It takes experience to learn how to survive in their dangerous world. A lot of creatures like to eat them. Luckily, some mothers look out for their babies.

How are stingrays born? All stingrays are born live. For baby stingray birth, the spines are flexible and may be covered in a sheath. This protects the mother while baby stingrays are being born. The sheath goes away within hours of birth. Little Ray does not face any risk from his Mama Ray. Mama Ray stays with her little ray. How long stingray babies stay with their mothers varies by species. From birth and until they are about three years old, a mother stingray may stay with her babies. Some female stingrays protect their stingray babies while they practice hunting for their own food. These babies stay under the watchful eyes of their mother stingrays. Fish attacks may come without any warning sound. Most fish babies have to take care of themselves. Deep water ocean stingrays and manta rays leave their babies at birth. Father rays abandon the mothers after mating. Multiple males may chase down one female to make babies with her.

How are sharks born? Shark birth is different from baby stingray birth. Unlike baby stingrays, some sharks hatch from eggs. Whether they are born live or from eggs, baby sharks are on their own. A shark is born to take care of itself. It may be a good thing for shark babies to hatch away from their mothers. Being in the wrong place might end poorly. Anything can end up inside a mother shark, including her shark pup. Shark embryos may be eaten while they are inside their mothers' bodies. Early-hatched, large embryos may eat the smaller embryos or eggs. Shark mothers may start with several eggs. At birth, the surviving one or two pups are of a good size to survive to adulthood. According to the Reefquest Centre for Shark Research, there is evidence of intrauterine cannibalism in Sandtiger Sharks, Tawny Nurse Sharks, Crocodile Sharks and Basking Sharks, among others.

What is the name for baby sharks? Shark and stingray babies have the same name. These babies are called “pups”. If mother stingrays or sharks have more than one pup, they are called “litters”. One or more young stingrays are born to female stingrays each year. The first birth usually has one pup. The number of stingrays being born in the “litter” can be from one to twelve, depending upon the size and type of stingray. Sharks can have from one to one hundred babies. More babies are born from egg-laying sharks. Fewer babies fit in the bodies of female sharks for live births. In The Amazing Flight of Little Ray, Mama Ray has only one stingray baby. The illustrations show her to be small and young. The story shows this mother stingray to be wise about ocean life. Mothers everywhere want to know what is best for their children.

How do stingrays and sharks make babies? Female stingrays and sharks have one opening to make babies, to poop and to pee. It is called the “cloaca”. It is located between the pelvic fins, under the female's body. Male stingrays and sharks have two organs to make babies. They are called “claspers”. They are under the body on each of the pelvic fins. The claspers put sperm into the cloacas. One clasper is used at a time. The right clasper is used when the male approaches from the left side of the female. The left clasper is used when the male approaches from the right side. The male bites the female, then flips her over. The claspers have spurs to keep them inside the females. This is painful for female rays and sharks. Some sharks do not start making babies until they are past the average life span of stingrays. A female ray or shark may have many different mates during their lifetimes.

Do fish show emotions? Children will see hints of the motherly care and worry for their own lives in the example of Little Ray's stingray mother. Fish do not have facial expressions. Their actions give clear signs of upset or happiness. In The Amazing Flight of Little Ray, Mama Ray worries about Little Ray's youthful risk-taking. Little Ray wants to fly. The results are unpleasant, for a while. Stinging makes his problems go away. Stingrays are not mindless stinging machines. They only sting to defend themselves. Baby stingrays and manta rays are born with miniature adult parts. They can fend for themselves. They also can make fast getaways.

How do mantas defend themselves? Giant manta rays use size for defense. These mantas may act like cows. Cows shove, push and butt with their heads. Mother whales also do this to protect their calves. Size offers a huge advantage for a mother whale. According to Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea, there are Cow Sharks. Their babies are called pups. One large cow shark had human body parts inside it. The shark may have eaten the dead body parts. These sharks are not known to kill and eat people. Unlike stingrays, manta rays have no stingers. They may charge when threatened. They can use head butts or body slams to stop an attack. Their frightening size may scare away some attackers. Giant mantas will try to escape fierce attackers. They leave with their tails whipping. Manta rays usually live alone. Stingrays may live in groups. Some sharks band together. Other sharks are loners.

Do catfish have kittens?. There are no kittens of the sea. According to Ground Sharks in GURPS, there is a shark species that is called a catshark. It has the coloring of cats. Their babies are called pups. Baby catfish are called “fry”. Marine catfish fathers carry the eggs in their mouths. Baby catfish take care of themselves after hatching. Thousands of eggs may be laid by some catfish. Some fish guard their eggs. Fish may eat their own eggs. They may want to keep another fish from getting them. Baby seahorses also are called fry. Father seahorses carry the eggs in a pouch. Mother kangaroos and opossums have pouches. Mama Catfish, Mama Seahorses and the fry must be happy their Papas protect them until they hatch. After the eggs hatch, these babies are on their own. They are small, but fully developed. The father seahorse is ready for more eggs. These may come from the same mother. One type of seahorse is believed to mate for life. The rest of them change mates with each mating season.

Cubs are found in the water. The best-known cubs among ocean life are polar bear babies. These bears are at the top of the food chain and at the top of the world in their frigid climes. Their only predators are armed humans. No other creature dares walk or swim among mama polar bears, be these with or without babies. There also are no stingrays being born in such cold places. Mother stingrays, with or without their stingray babies, do not venture into polar bear country. Baby stingray birth takes place where the waters are warm. Stingray babies could not survive to adulthood in cold waters. Sharks may be in the area. Some sharks don't burn a lot of calories at rest. This may allow them to stay in frigid climates throughout long lives. Some ocean parents make a huge sacrifice for their babies. Male octopuses die after fertilizing the female's eggs. Female octopuses only live long enough to give birth.

Baby stingrays and sharks can jump out of the water. Like the little pet fish in an aquarium, a fish bowl or a fish pond, shark and stingray babies can jump out of the water. Mother stingrays prefer their babies spend time hunting for food and hiding from predators after baby stingray birth. Mama Ray bites her tongue when Little Ray decides to fly like birds in The Amazing Flight of Little Ray. Learning hunting and safety skills is encouraged by mother stingrays for each of their baby stingrays being born. This is true in the book and in real life. Taking flight can keep stingray babies safe. For shark babies, whether they are airborne or the in water, their own mothers can eat them. In The Amazing Flight of Little Ray, to not discourage Little Ray's achievement, Mama Ray let her son “test his wings”. Many land and sea animals must fend for themselves from birth. Learning how to survive is important for ocean life and for children on land.

We do not know Mama Ray's reaction after Little Ray returned to the sea “on a wing and a prayer”. However, his friends are happy about his safe return to his welcoming sea. It should be clear why Little Ray loves his Mama Ray and his ocean life. Mama Ray helps everyone understand the many ways that stingrays take care of their stingray babies after baby stingray birth. It is the mothers, not the fathers, who help these little ones survive to adulthood. Good parenting skills help all youngsters to safely live their lives. Good mothers everywhere have an example in Mama Ray. Thanks to Mama Ray, ocean life is pretty good for Little Ray. Children are sure to see the importance of the mothers in their lives. Many animals have no chance to meet their mothers or their fathers. Fathers play an important role in parenting. Few babies born in the ocean are as lucky as children on land. They usually can count on help from their mothers and their fathers.

Baby Stingray Birth and Survival to Adulthood

  • Mama Ray Little Ray says:

    A Mama Ray does not abandon her babies, which should make her popular with everyone.

  • Stingray babies Little Ray says:

    Children also learn about the natural defenses of stingray babies from Little Ray's ocean life stories.

    • Ocean LifeLittle Ray says:

      In discussions of ocean life, it is important to include mother stingrays, since they are protective of their babies.