Little Ray and Mama Ray displayed at 50% of viewport width
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”)

This month celebrates mothers with baby stingrays being born and telling how long stingray babies stay with the mother stingray for survival to adulthood after baby stingray birth.

Mother stingrays move to a safe area for baby stingray birth. In “The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”, Mama Ray represents love, care and protection. Safety at birth gives babies a good start.

Stingrays are born live. The spines are flexible for delivery. They are covered with a sheath to protect the mother. It sloughs off within hours of birthing. Stingrays give birth annually.

The first litter typically has one “pup”. As females mature, there can be up to twelve babies in a “litter”. Female deep water ocean stingrays and mantas leave at birth. Males leave after mating.

Female stingrays may protect their stingray babies while they learn to hunt for food. From birth and until they are about three years old, a mother stingray may watch over her young.

Fish make no facial expressions. Their actions give clear signs of rage or joy. Children see hints of the motherly care and worry in Mama Ray. She worries about Little Ray's youthful risk-taking.

Fish attacks come without warning sound. Like mama dogs, a mama ray may charge. Both mothers are equipped to defend their pups. Stingrays have venomous stinging barbs. Mama dogs have fangs.

Baby sharks get no motherly care. Whether they are delivered by live birth, referred to as viviparous, or hatch by oviparous birth from eggs, the pups provide for themselves. Sharks do not spawn. Fertilization is internal.

Mating is distressing for females. Males bite and flip them over. Claspers have painful spurs to keep them in place. One clasper is used for each mating. It deposits sperm into the cloaca.

Egg-laying sharks are large producers. Shark eggs are protected by cases called “mermaid's purses”. Yolks sustain the embryos to an advanced stage of development. They hatch as independent “pups”.

Being in the wrong place might end poorly. Mother sharks are known to eat their pups. Sharks can have from one to one hundred babies. Fewer babies fit in the bodies of female sharks for live delivery.

Internal embryos eat smaller embryos or eggs. From several eggs, one or two live pups may be born. The Reefquest Centre for Shark Research reports evidence of intrauterine cannibalism.

Female stingrays and sharks have one opening for reproduction, feces and urine. It is the “cloaca”. Male stingrays and sharks have two organs for mating. They are called “claspers”.

Giant mantas use size, or escape, for defense. They make cow-like head butts or body slams. They have no venomous stingers. Pizard's GURPS describes Cow Sharks.

No kittens roam seas. Pizard's GURPS covers Ground Sharks, including catsharks and “pups”. After spawning, male ariid catfish orally incubate eggs. Fathers briefly protect the “fry” after hatching.

Baby fish typically develop in stages. While sustained with tiny yolk-sacs, they are called “larvae”. When they feed themselves, they become “fry”. “Fingerlings” have working fins.

Male seahorses fertilize and carry eggs in pouches. They hatch as fully-developed “fry”. One type of seahorse may mate for life. Mother kangaroos and opossums also have pouches.

The best-known cubs of ocean life are polar bear babies. Their only predators are armed humans. Few creatures approach mama polar bears or their cubs. Some sharks live in frigid polar bear country.

Some ocean parents make huge sacrifices. Male octopuses die after fertilizing eggs. Females live long enough for birthing. Without parents, the larvae must fend for themselves.

Fathers play important roles. Few babies born in the ocean are as lucky as baby seahorses or marine catfish. Children on land usually get help from both parents. They are not fully-developed miniature adults.