Cownose Ray

Cownose Ray Rhinoptera bonasus

Type of Animal:

Temperate to tropical waters-open ocean, open waters, inshore shallow bays, inshore waters, shallow marine waters, brackish coastal waters, estuaries, found as deep as 72 ft below surface

Atlantic from New England to S Brazil as well as in Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico

Gray-brown to gray to brown to golden-brown to olive green backed w/ white to yellow-white belly, broad head, wide-set eyes, pair of distinctive lobes on subrostral fin, kite-shaped, long brown tail, squared indented cownose like snout, barb at base of tail, pups usually grayish & lighter than adults

Bivalves, gastropods, crustaceans, polychaetes, zoobenthos, nekton, bony fish

Status in Wild:

Breeding in aquariums, marine parks, & zoos

Schools of 1,000-10,000 rays

Additional Info:

Young: Pup
Group: School/Fever

Male: 26 lbs
Female: 36 lbs
Young: 10 lbs

5-12 months 

Life Span:
13-18 years

Male: 2.91 ft
Female: 2.3 ft
Young: 1.9 ft

Body Length:
Male: 3.7 ft
Female: 3.8 ft
Young: 2 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 5.82-5.7 ft
Female: 4.6-6 ft
Young: 3.8-4 ft

Main predators are sharks & cobia.
Highly migratory, migrating in fall from New England/Mid-Atlantic/Upper South to warmer waters of Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, & as far S as Brazil. Huge schools seen during migration.
They’re ovoviviparous, w/ egg developing & hatching within mom’s body, resulting in live birth of usually single pup.
Wingspan of around 3 ft, female wingspan slightly smaller than male wingspan.
Once prey detected, they flap pectoral fins while sucking up sediment through mouth & out through gill slit. Eventually, prey drawn into mouth using strong jaws/thick crushing tooth plates. Electroreceptors on snouts come in handy for this.
Occasionally hybridize w/ Brazilian Cownose Rays in Brazil.
Breeding season is October-July, w/ peak in June.
Sexually mature at 4 years old.
During mating, male bites female, often leaving mating scars.

Fun Fact(s):
Many sharks have been found w/ stingray barbs embedded in heads/jaws.
John Smith of Pocahontas fame severely stung during 1608 voyage of Chesapeake Bay (his crew thought he’d die)-that site on Rappahannock River now known as Stingray Point.
While potentially dangerous, they’re quite docile & friendly, often being used in touch tanks, in which ray’s barbed stinger clipped off. Stings most often occur because it was stepped on. However, these rays don’t often bury themselves in sand so dangerous encounters rare.
Known as “choo-choo” by shrimpers due to sound they make when hitting boat deck.
Scientific name means “winged-nose bison.”
Females have 2 ovaries but only left one functional.
Have been seen jumping out of water & landing on bellies, making loud smack sounds. Males often jump out of water during breeding season.
Cownose Ray, Adventure Aquarium, Camden, New Jersey, taken by me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *