Know your fish | Sting Ray

Although more common in southern areas, the sting ray can be found all around the British Isles and Ireland. Their numbers increase during summer and autumn, when they move to our coasts, from the Mediterranean, following the warmer water.

Care must be taken when handling these fish as they have a long and barbed poisonous spine upon the tail.

Although they grow to 2.5m, the vast majority of sting rays found around our southern coastlines will be up to 1m in length.

They prefer soft sandy bottoms in calm water. You will find sting rays in really shallow water to about 60-17m deep.

Identification

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The sting ray has large wings that are rounded at the tips. The snout is quite pointed.

The tail is very long – very much like a whip. A few inches down the tail is a poisonous spine that must be avoided.

Sting rays have no dorsal fins upon the tail, while the very similar eagle ray does have a small dorsal fin, positioned just in front of the spine.

They can be olive green, brown or a dark grey, while the underside is creamy with grey edges.

Feeding

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 sting ray are worms, crab and strips of squid.

Breeding

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Sting 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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