One of the biggest draws here at the center is our ray touch tank. It’s a great place for children (and adults) to get hands-on experience with these gentle creatures with a bad name. All stingrays do have a barb - but here at Florida Oceanographic we keep the resident rays trimmed. The barb grows very similar to a finger nail. We trim them every couple of months to ensure they can’t harm our visitors if frightened.
We currently have about 11 rays in our touch tank, and with the water warming up we hope their appetite increases. If you visited us during the winter time you may have noticed the rays not feeding aggressively or possibly not acting hungry at all. This is because a stingray’s appetite decreases from the decrease in energy and activity caused by colder water temperatures. The ocean is warming up, and because our exhibit water is pumped directly from the ocean, our water on site is warmer.
The fish in our 750,000 gallon Game Fish Lagoon have definitely been affected by this warming and are putting on a great show during the feeding program. Along with our other ≈35 species of fish, we house 18 large cownose rays in the GFL. The rays are schooling well now and feeding near the surface, which enables very easy viewing. This is a great time to come visit the rays and spend some quality time with them before the spring breakers increase the number of visitors at our feeding programs.
Some cool facts to leave you with:
- A group of rays is known as a fever
- Stingrays only use their barb as a defense, not for hunting or active attacks
- All the cownose rays in our tank are males, rays get a little frisky around mating time and we did want the female getting harassed and not being able to swim away
- A stingray’s skin is very delicate- think wet portabella mushroom- keep this in mind when coming to visit the tank. Long finger nails and bulky/ sharp jewelry can do damage to their skin, a flat hand with nothing on it is best for the rays.
Additional information about stingrays is available during our daily programs.
Hope to seen you soon!