Little Ray heard, “What's that, Mommy?”
“It's a pancake shark, my little Tommy.”
“ If it's a shark, why can't it get away?”
“ Maybe it can't figure out the way.”
(The Amazing Flight of Little Ray)
Meet rays in the shark family in Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up. The group of stingrays named pancake shark, flat shark and pancake stingray are part of the shark family.
The ITIS partnership of U.S., Canadian and Mexican organizations provides: Taxonomic Hierarchy and Nomenclature for sharks, stingrays and rays in the “Chondrichthyes” class and “Elasmobranchii” subclass.
The order of Myliobatiformes holds nine families. They include whip-tail stingrays, butterfly rays, six-gill stingrays, manta and devil rays, eagle rays, cow-nose rays, deep-water stingrays, river rays and round stingrays.
No stingray looks like a shark. Angel sharks resemble stingrays. Children might be surprised by the huge size of giant mantas, deep-water stingrays and whale sharks. Adult sharks also can be tiny.
The family is diverse. Over 10,000 pictures are on The Elasmodiver Shark and Ray Field Guide. It informs about evolution, biology, encounters and conservation.
Stingrays are flat. When viewed from the underside, Little Ray correctly wears a “smile”. This should get friends smiling. Smiles grace those who are helpful, successful, loving and learning.
Some stingrays are round and flat, like pancakes. Round stingrays join eight other ray families among “Direct Children” of the Myliobatiformes. See “Urolophidae” in this section of the ITIS report.
Captive rays act tame. Visitors at water parks swim with them and hand feed them. Curious fish brush against guests without showing a wild side. That docile stingrays are shark relatives is astonishing.
Stingray parks are popular. Lessons from the ocean benefit life on land. Rays are among the few fish with eyes on the tops of their heads. These fish look up at people, imploring respect.
Stingrays are nocturnal hunters. These opportunistic feeders consume food whenever it is available. In interactive lagoons they remain alert to and receptive of visitors bearing food for daytime feedings.
Interactive lagoons rarely advertise the shark connection. For public safety, stinging spines are humanely removed or trimmed. Trimming is not painful. The razor-sharp barbs grow back.
Some stingrays refuse handling. Cleaners of inside aquarium walls must take extra care with specimens kept together for breeding or display. Small pancake sharks make memorable stings.
Experienced handlers are familiar with suffering from a quick touch. Few victims are willing to repeat the experience. Contact with tough, sharp sharkskin denticles also may produce injury.
Bead-like stingray skin is rough and slimy. The slime won't rub off with contact. Electric rays have smooth, flabby skin without denticles. Many fish have protective mucous coatings.
Most fish are cold-blooded. Mako and Great White Sharks can raise body part temperatures to improve performance in cold water. According to Pizard's GURPS, Alopiid Sharks are warm-blooded.
It is better to visit than own these big eaters. They can be purchased from tropical fish stores, but they quickly outgrow home aquariums. Rays and sharks do poorly in captivity.
Bans are removing whales and porpoises from tanks. Canada has passed laws preventing holding and breeding of these marine mammals. Efforts everywhere should provide sanctuaries and rehabilitation for release.
Bull Sharks, River Sharks and some ray species live in freshwater. Freshwaterstingrays.co.uk has interesting facts about them. Ingesting saltwater can be deadly for land animals.
Aquariums use processed feed. Stingrays prefer small, fresh, live catches: fish, snails, shrimps, crabs, worms, clams, etc. Bottom feeders stir up meals with their snouts and fins. They hunt. They ambush.
The pancake form offers special abilities. Fascinating facts about pancake stingrays are captivating for children. Little Ray works on his weaknesses. Everyone should applaud his passionate efforts.