The Spotted Eagle Ray, Aetobatus Narinari, is an incredible marine creature of world’s tropical and warm waters. Spotted Eagle Rays migrate to Isla Mujeres, Mexico from December through March.
The shipwrecks are the favorite haunting grounds for these majestic underwater eagles. It almost feels like they are guardians of the wrecks. Hovering like aquatic birds, watching and receiving the visitors while dancing on the current, they show off their beautiful colors and typically hang out with us for a spectacular show.
About Eagle Rays
The Spotted Eagle Rays can grow up to 3.5 meters wide and 9 meters in length. They have a recorded maximum weight of 238 kg. They also live as long as 25 years.
Females are substantially larger than their male counterparts. They can give birth from one to five pups. Female Eagle Rays lay eggs, however they carry them until their young hatch and are able to swim on their own. When the pups are born, they already have a wingspan of about 12 inches.
The Eagle Ray has a long snout, flat and rounded, similar to the bird from which it gets its name. They have thick heads and pectoral disks with sharply curved angled corners. The patterns on their backs are unique to each individual, just like a fingerprint as seen in other animals like whale sharks. You can track an Eagle Ray based on its unique pattern. Eagle Rays have patterns on their backs, however their underbellies are usually solid white
They have a stinger that can secrete venom and can cause intense pain.
Spotted Eagle Rays typically swim along the ocean bottom. They use their large nose to sense their prey and detect other food hidden in the sand. They use a set of interlocking teeth, their upper and lower jaws, to grind on the hard shelled bottom-living food. Clams, snails and hermit crabs make up the majority of their diet. They also eat shrimp, octopus, worms and small fish.
While at times found alone during non-breeding season, Eagle Rays more frequently form large schools. Sometimes up to several hundreds of animals together at once.
Spotted Eagle Rays at Our Shipwreck Dive Sites, the C-55 and C-58.
It is impressive how gracefully they move and play. It is a unique show of nature. A spectacular opportunity for underwater photography can present itself at any moment.
We love the wintertime in Isla Mujeres when Spotted Eagle Rays come to visit our shipwreck dive sites! Here are some things you maybe did not know about these gorgeous animals!
Fun Facts about Spotted Eagle Rays
- They are believed to live for as long as 25 years.
- The large rostrum, or “nose,” of a Spotted Eagle Rays creates an increased surface area full of electro-sensory pores that help them detect prey hidden beneath the seafloor.
- When born, Spotted Eagle Rays already have a wingspan of approximately 12 inches.
- They have live births of 1 to 4 pups.
- They use plates of interlocking teeth on their upper and lower jaws to grind away like a mortar and pestle at their hard-bodied prey.
- Their stinger secretes venom that causes intense pain, often followed by bacterial infection.
- Spotted Eagle Rays form huge fevers (groups) of up to several hundred individuals.
- Male Eagle Rays bite the wings of their mate during courtship.
The Spotted Eagle Ray is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The Eagle Ray is evaluated as a near-threatened species. The fishing, landing, purchasing and trading of Spotted Eagle Rays is against the law. It is important to encourage their conservation through education and awareness.
Do you want to dive with these Eagle Rays?
Shipwrecks lie that off the coast of Isla Mujeres host Eagle Rays from December through March. Don’t miss the chance to catch these graceful animals soaring above the shipwrecks.