Stingrays in the Maldives
Many types of stingrays in the Maldives cruise the shallow lagoons of the islands. Others prefer to lie in deep caves only to be seen by passing divers.
Often confused with a manta ray with its triangular wing and large size, stingrays are a round shape and use their disc-like body in a ripple motion to swim. Their eyes are on the top side of the disc with their mouths underneath. This is why we often see them along the bottom of the seafloor or just skimming over the top of the corals, as they are looking for food!
Almost all stingrays have a barb or blade in their tail. This has many smaller barbs which lodge in the flesh of its victim. The barbs also contain venom. However, they will only use this as their final defence if they feel extremely threatened or if surprised (accidentally stepped on). Like all sea creatures if not provoked and you keep your distance stingrays are not threatening. In fact, they are very cool to see while in the water!
While in the Maldives you may encounter a few species of stingrays:
We commonly see this type of ray in shallow water. They are a pinky/brownish colour and have a long whip-like tail.
Known as the feathertail stingray, we find it in the shallows, but also on deeper sandy areas. As it is the same colour as the sand it has a perfect camouflage, This species defining feature is its thick tail which has a feathered stinger at the end.
Blotched Fantail Stingrays
We see this ray more often while scuba diving. They can get very big up to 180 cm. This species is easily identifiable due to its unique colouration. The body colour is usually a deep grey with dark spots.
We spot it in large lagoons, though it is not as common. Unlike most of the other stingray species, the porcupine ray does not have a venomous stinger and its tail is much shorter. However, it is still able to defend itself with its rows of sharp thorns located over most of its body.
When you visit the Maldives keep an eye out for stingrays while walking around the islands, or while in the water. Now you may even be able to identify them!