This illustration from The Amazing Flight of Little Ray shows the pancake form of a stingray displayed at 50% of viewport width.
November 2020 by Terry Verduin

PANCAKE SHARK | FLAT SHARK

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)

Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up introduces rays in the shark family. The group of stingrays called pancake shark, flat shark and pancake stingray form part of the shark family.

Pancakes

Sweet and Low? Stingrays are flat, like pancakes. When viewed from the underside, Little Ray correctly wears a “smile”. It should get friends smiling. Smiles reflect joy, success and love. They also may snag free breakfasts.


Fresh ideas? Pancakes, called hotcakes, griddle cakes or flapjacks, contain eggs, butter and milk, like waffles. Poor waffles of the food world go by one name, like sharks of the aquatic world. Texture and shape set them apart.


Old-fashioned? Johnny cakes are pancakes made with cornmeal. This early American staple food was adopted from native tribes. It is called Shawnee cake, hoecake, Johnny cake, journey cake, and Johnny bread.

Pancake Sharks

Fine Form? The pancake form offers special abilities. Fascinating facts and fun of pancake stingrays captivate children. Little Ray works to put smiles on faces. Folks should hold pancake feasts to salute his passionate efforts.


Solid State? Stingrays are not totally flat. They have many moving parts. Unlike some sharks, no ray could or would swallow a person or other large animal whole. However, they can chow down on prey with very hard shells.


Waffles for Sharks? The platform by this name is fitting. Like pancake and waffle ingredients, rays and sharks similarly combine components and substances. Sharks and stingrays do not always get smiles. This can change.

Beyond Dining

It All Adds Up? IHOP restaurants serve up pancakes on IHOP Free Pancake Day. Smiling customers may get some “freebies”. Donations support children health causes. Why not serve waffles during the week of shark celebration?


National Pancake Day? This roving Christian tradition serves up pancakes 47 days before Easter Sunday. Like stingrays, the holiday feast has many names: Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras.


Pancake Breakfasts? At Canadian summer festivals, volunteers cook and serve pancakes as public fund raisers. These culinary treats raise funds in the U. S. to support military troops and diverse community causes.

Waffles

Connect the Jaws! Eating waffles should connect folks with sharks. Group gatherings can bust negative myths, spread good information and lend support to socially-responsible culinary, literary and ecological efforts.


Fuel for Thought? The public relations outreach of Waffles for Sharks could help everyone grow to appreciate these endangered fish. It also may raise reading rates, which are declining about as fast as shark populations.


Drive it Home? The Waffles for Sharks link connects international sharks with waffles and strengthens the pancake-to-stingray connection. It gives context for business, education and conservation partnering events.

Pancake Stingrays

Stinging Sidekicks? Stingrays are classified as Myliobatiformes. There are eight families: whip-tail stingrays, butterfly rays, six-gill stingrays, stingarees, eagle rays, deep-water stingrays, river rays and round stingrays.


Organic Forms? Some stingrays are round and flat, like pancakes. Six-gill stingray stingers are on their backs. Some river ray stingers are harmless. Stingarees love murky waters. They have venomous stings.


Strange? Manta rays and most devil rays lack stingers. Cow-nose rays have stingers, but they swim near the surface, making them easy to spot. These fish are in the eagle ray family of large, open-ocean dwelling species.

Diverse Family

Mirror Image? Angel sharks resemble stingrays. No stingrays look like sharks. The huge size of giant mantas, deep-water stingrays and whale sharks stands in surprising contrast to tiny adult shark species.


Flat Shark Club? There are many species of cartilaginous fish. Shark relatives include skates, rays, guitarfish, sawfish and chimeras. They are found in freshwater and marine habitats throughout the world.


In Full Bloom? The family is diverse. Thousands of pictures grace The Elasmodiver Shark and Ray Field Guide. It informs interested parties about evolution, biology, encounters and the urgent need for conservation.

Disappearing Sharks

Uncharted Territory? Most of the ocean is unexplored. It is hard to know what will be discovered. Because less than ten percent of the oceanic territory falls within the MPA designation, we may never learn what is being lost.


Focus Group Culture? According to Treehugger.com, “some flat sharks are so endangered, it is hard to find photographs of them.” Shark Advocates International expands efforts to preserve these disappearing species.


Eco tourism? Great white sharks are disappearing from South Africa's coastline. In this once-celebrated white shark capital of the world, rare and isolated sightings remain. The iconic fish no longer makes this a hotpot.

Unique Sharks

Turn up the Heat? Mako and Great White Sharks raise body part temperatures to improve performance in cold water. Per Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea, “Alopiid Sharks, or thresher sharks, are warm-blooded.”


Natural Selection? 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 freshwater and land animals.


Individual Markings? Each whale shark sports a spot pattern that is as unique as a fingerprint. Since the whale shark is the biggest fish in the ocean, researchers had to go to great effort to isolate this surface identifier.

Lost & Found

Chew Toy? A research team led by NOAA marine biologists described a unique kitefin shark specimen found in the Gulf of Mexico. This American Pocket Shark was only 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) long.


Weird Feature? NOAA researchers introduced the pocket shark in 2015. The name came from pocket-like orifices located near the pectoral fins. The specimen was identified as a new species, leaving much for further study.


Light Pack? Luminous fluid produced in the pockets gets these wee fish glowing. Pocket Sharks cast light in the dark to lure prey, attract mates or avoid predators. Finding these deep-water specimens is exceptionally rare.

Group of Stingrays

Going Places? Popular stingray parks give lessons from the ocean to benefit life on land. Rays are among the few fish with eyes on the tops of their heads. They look up at people. This submission merits mutual respect.


Acting Tame? Visitors at water parks swim with captive rays. They greet hand-feeders. These curious fish brush against guests without showing their wild side. That docile stingrays are shark relatives is astonishing.


Golden Hour? Largely nocturnal hunters, these opportunistic feeders eat whenever food is available. In interactive lagoons, stingrays remain alert to and receptive of visitors bearing food for daytime feedings.

Brushing Up

Small Wonder? For public safety, stinging spines are removed or trimmed. Trimming is not painful. Razor-sharp barbs grow back. Calming methods in Mama Ray are helpful to handlers and indicative of the shark connection.


Seeing Red? 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 with Stingray Venom.


Hot Seat? Handlers know the suffering from a quick touch. Few victims want to repeat the experience. Contact with sharkskin denticles can cause injury. Electric rays have smooth, flabby skin without these sharp projections.

Rays in the Shark Family

Wear an Apron? Rough, slimy, bead-like stingray skin has a protective mucous coating to ward off parasites and reduce swimming friction. If it rubs off, the stinky slime can be hard to clean from shoe, clothing or ship fabrics.


Long Story? Ray touch tanks may be torture chambers. These unfortunate fish suffer germ-ridden tourist sieges. Denied sandy bottoms for escape or hiding, they can be mishandled or injured during commercial exploit.


Art of the Huddle? Bans set whales and porpoises free from tanks. Holding or breeding of these marine mammals is illegal. Next-level efforts should force release of vulnerable captive fish into rehabilitation sanctuaries.

Part of the Shark Family

Beach Day? 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.


Tank Condition Matters? The keen senses of sharks and rays make them extremely sensitive to poor water quality. They also develop posture problems from the constant bending required to navigate small areas.


Crowd Disturbance? Sensitive shark family members rely upon water vibrations, sounds and scents for survival. Disorienting noise, smells and pounding vibrations from tourist throngs confuse and depress these fish.

Woke Society

Buyer's Remorse? Visit rather than own these big eaters. Purchased from tropical fish stores, they quickly outgrow home aquariums. Rays and sharks adapt poorly to captivity. Their migration patterns and habits are disturbed.


Ocean Gifts? Amazon has AmazonSmile for charitable donations. At 0.5% of each purchase, high sales volumes make this worthwhile. Should Little Ray's books be acquired, this may be an option for new management.


Celebrate Sharks? Fascination with sharks is not just for scientists, in-cage filmmakers or thrill-seekers. This year's Shark Week airs on the Discovery Channel from August 9-16, 2021. It features science, fun and games.