Stingray Cuisine FactsFebruary 4, 2019
Stingrays are purely carnivorous and, like most carnivores, they like to eat animals smaller than themselves. In particular, they like to eat animals that live on or beneath the sand like worms, clams, oysters, snails and shrimp . A la carte for stingrays are small fish and squid.
Buried in the Sand
Stingrays have a flattened body shape, making it easy to nestle into the ocean floor where they can toss sand on top of themselves for camouflage and protection from predators. Their mouths are under their body, so when they skim the ocean floor it’s easier to gobble-up worms, shrimp and clams. Along with the sandy prey, stingrays will vacuum up any dead matter (aka ocean leftovers) they come across.
Nothing to Sea
While their mouths are on their undersides, most species of stingrays have eyes located on top of their bodies. This leaves stingrays vulnerable to anything beneath them, which probably explains why they spend so much time near the ocean floor. What their eyes can’t see, they make up for with a complex sensory system called the Ampullae of Lorenzini. This system helps them pick up electrical signals released by their prey, wherever they may be swimming or crawling in the sand.
Built to Crunch
Stingrays are cartilaginous, meaning they have no bones, which makes what their jaws can do even more extraordinary. In order to crush the shells of crabs, clams, sea snails and other mollusks, stingrays need serious chomping power! To do this, stingrays’ jaws are several layers thick with hollow struts supporting the its softer cartilage cores. This makes stingrays’ jaws a crushing combination of strength and lightweight maneuverability.
What Eats Stingrays?
Let’s look at where stingrays fall within the complex hierarchy of the ocean food chain: Animals known to feed on stingrays include sharks, elephant seals and killer whales. The best defense the stingray has is its flat body, which makes it perfect for hiding in the sand on the ocean floor. If all else fails, they can utilize the natural weapons that gave them their name. Most species of stingrays are equipped with—you guessed it—a long, whip-like tail and only "sting" when they feel threatened.
Now that you’ve filled up on stingray diet facts, why not pay them a visit at SeaWorld Orlando? Our stingrays love to surface from their sandy hiding spots and swim beneath your fingertips.