The numbers of eagle rays increase during summer and autumn, when they move to our coasts, from the Mediterranean, following the warmer water. You are most likely to find them around the south coast of Ireland and England.
Care must be taken when handling these fish as they have a long and barbed poisonous spine upon the tail.
Although they grow to 2 m, the vast majority of eagle rays found around our southern coastlines will be up to 1m in length.
They prefer soft sandy bottoms in calm water. Eagle rays can sometimes be seen swimming just under the surface, but they will swim to depths of around 100m to find food.
The eagle ray has large wings that are pointed at the tips. The snout is more rounded that the similar sting ray.
The tail is very long – very much like a whip. A few inches down the tail is a poisonous spine that must be avoided. Occasionally the fish may have two spines, but this is quite rare.
Eagle rays have a dorsal fin upon the tail, positioned just in front of the spine, while the very similar sting ray does not have a small dorsal fin.
They can be olive green, brown or a dark grey, while the underside is creamy with grey edges.
They dig into the sand to locate bottom-dwelling creatures using their snout and wings. Their staple diet comprises: crabs, shellfish, flatfish and molluscs.
They have very powerful jaws to help them crush shellfish.
The best baits for eagle ray are worms, crab and strips of squid.
Eagle rays are live-bearers. They give birth to between six and nine young. They do not breed in Britain, preferring warmer water towards the south
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