Telling Rays Apart At Biscayne National Park
Since roughly 95 percent of Biscayne National Park is under water, most of the focus on wildlife is on marinelife in the park, such as the mantra rays and spotted eagle rays.
Can you tell the difference between the two rays?
Here's a short primer from the folks at Biscayne:
You are probably familiar with the small stingrays that cruise around the sand flats, seagrass, and reef habitats of the park. But did you know that some less common yet very majestic rays can also be observed in Biscayne?
The spotted eagle ray is a beautiful creature that can achieve a wingspan of 8 feet. They tend to be solitary, but are sometimes seen in small schools. These fish will settle on the seafloor to dig in the sand for mollusks.
The giant manta ray is another rare sighting, as this fish is typically considered oceanic and only occasionally passes along walls and over reefs. Giant manta rays are so-called because they can achieve a wingspan of 22 feet!
While the spotted eagle ray tends to be weary of divers, the giant manta is unconcerned with divers and may hang around as long as it is not molested. A park employee was very lucky to snap the photo to the right below, which shows a manta ray as it cruised on the outskirts of a reef near Pacific channel.