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”)
Little Ray and his Mama Ray, from a series of stingray and shark stories for children, give us a perfect introduction into the ocean life of stingray mothers and their stingray babies.
Without Mama Ray, there would be less intrigue and less adventure to Little Ray's ocean life. There also would be no stingray and shark stories for children. There could be no stingray babies without mother stingrays. Stingray babies are called “pups” and they are born in “litters”. Like its stingray cousin, a shark “pup” (baby) is born ready to take care of itself. This is a good thing, because the mother shark might eat it! Stingray babies do not face this risk. As soon as they are born, a mother stingray provides care for her babies. Until they are about three years old, the mama ray protects her babies while they practice hunting for their own food. Mother stingrays prefer their babies spend time hunting for food and hiding from predators, rather than trying to fly like birds. However, in “The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”, to not discourage Little Ray's achievement, Mama Ray allowed her son to “test his wings”. We do not know Mama's reaction, after Little Ray returned to the sea “on a wing and a prayer.”
Stingray babies are good swimmers at the time of birth. Like the little pet fish in an aquarium or a fish pond, baby stingrays can jump out of the water. Stingrays are born live from eggs that hatch within the mama ray. One or more young stingrays are born to a mother stingray each year. The number of babies in the “litter” can be from one to twelve, depending upon the size of the mama ray. Since stingrays live for fifteen to twenty-five years, they take a while to reach full maturity. Although newborn stingrays swim as well as their stingray mothers, their venomous stinging tails are small and undeveloped. Fortunately, the mama ray will provide for their defense while her babies grow. Now you know why Little Ray loves his Mama Ray!