Most people are familiar with common rays, like the zebra and manta rays.
There are many different types of rays that most people have never heard of—and never seen. Rays are one of the ocean’s most diverse groups of fish species.
They come in different shapes and sizes, and it’s hard to believe they’re in the same fish family! Although rays are a bit different from other species of fish.
Here are 14 different types of rays you may not know about – find out more about these fish today!
1. Spotted Eagle Ray
The spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) is an eagle ray family of the Myliobatidae species. It is widespread throughout tropical and subtropical waters from India to Africa, but not Australia. It inhabits both fresh and saltwater environments in bays, estuaries, and lagoons.
It is often seen swimming near river mouths. At night it feeds on crabs and shellfish in shallow water using its mud-grubbing techniques that are common among rays.
It is a different type of Ray that will feed on fish at all times of day if given the opportunity. It can grow up to 6 m long but typically measures 3–4 m.
Its coloring varies with age, location, and season; adults are generally brownish above with yellowish spots or blotches.
A row of black spots runs along each side of its body between the eyes and tail, and its back fin has a large black spot surrounded by white. Its underside is a white or pale yellow, with rows of dark spots or reticulations running down each side.
2. Devil Rays
While devil rays are not technically raying at all, they are a close cousin. These look different from other rays; they have flat, wing-like pectoral fins instead of pointed ones like most sharks.
Also, unlike other rays, devil rays don’t have spines on their bodies. As previously mentioned, these creatures are also known as manta rays or giant oceanic manta rays (Manta birostris).
They’re a different type of Ray that can be found in oceans around the world and can live up to 100 years. These animals usually eat plankton and small fish that swim near them.
Devil rays reproduce slowly and only give birth to one pup every two years. The females carry their young for 11 months before giving birth!
Devil rays are currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Many humans hunt these animals for food or kill them accidentally while fishing.
3. Long-nosed butterfly ray
The long-nosed butterfly ray is found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters, from intertidal to depth. It feeds mainly on benthic invertebrates such as crabs, mollusks, and starfish. This species is ovoviviparous; females give birth to two live young after a gestation period of about one year.
The pups emerge tail first and feed on unfertilized eggs produced by their mother, absorbing nutrients while they grow inside her.
When fully developed, they are expelled into open water, where they start swimming independently. They attain sexual maturity at around 2 years old.
In some areas, it is hunted for food or sport, and its skin is used for leather. Pollution may adversely affect its numbers, but it has no special conservation status. Its snout is longer than that of any other member of its family and ends in a rounded tip with five cephalic papillae.
The mouth contains broad bands of small teeth arranged radially. The larger outer teeth are near the corners, and the smaller inner ones are closer to the center line.
4. White-spotted Ray
The white-spotted Ray is probably one of your most common different types of rays. It lives in both tropical and temperate glasses of water, with its populations being highest in Bays, deltas, and rivers.
It has been known to live for up to 25 years in captivity, but it is not known how long they live in the wild.
They typically reach sizes of around 60cm when fully grown but have been recorded growing as large as 1.5m.
These are nocturnal feeders, generally staying under cover during daylight hours to avoid predators such as fish, birds, and mammals.
Their predators include sharks and other rays that may hunt them at night due to their slow speed and poor eyesight.
5. Lined butterfly ray
What we think of as a ray—the flying creature that looks like a stingray with wings—isn’t a ray. These are skates and sharks (or, more specifically, rays). Lined butterfly rays are part of the batoid family, along with guitarfish and sawfish.
They’re closely related to manta rays and often display stunning colors in their skin. They can grow up to 8 feet wide and 10 feet long but rarely weigh more than 100 pounds. Because they filter-feed on plankton, they can survive for months on end without feeding at all.
While their numbers aren’t threatened, these beautiful creatures face many threats from humans: Pollution, boat strikes, and entanglement in fishing gear.
Conservation efforts are underway to help protect them from harm. And once you see one flapping its fins through an ocean current, you won’t want anything bad to happen to it either!
6. Reef Manta Ray
The reef manta ray ( Manta alfredi ) is a wide-ranging species that favors warm tropical and subtropical waters. It’s named for its affinity for reef systems and small caves, where it takes shelter from predators.
The reef manta ray has been listed as endangered by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2008.
Its popularity as a specimen in aquariums has left populations vulnerable to poaching and habitat destruction.
When threats to reef mantas are properly assessed, conservation groups can be sure they are choosing effective policies to protect them.
7. Electric Rays
The electric ray is one of the different types of rays found throughout many bodies of water. The electric ray is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical seas.
These animals are characterized by two different organs that can produce electric shocks to prevent predators. This unique characteristic has earned them several nicknames, including Torpedo Ray and Electric Torpedo.
Electric rays are also unique because they lack a traditional tail fin making it difficult for predators to grasp onto a fin. These species can grow as large as 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length, and most grow up to 4 feet (1 meter) in length.
They have no scales or teeth but small mouth openings at each corner of their wide mouth. They feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and other fish using an electrical organ called a torpedo organ.
They electrically shock their prey before sucking it into their mouths with strong suction forces created by rapidly contracting muscles. They swallow prey whole since they do not have teeth or jaws capable of chewing food.
8. Oceanic Manta Ray
The Oceanic Manta Ray or Giant Manta Ray is one of three different types of rays in tropical waters. The largest manta ray ever seen had an excess of twenty feet wingspan! Their coloring varies but is commonly bright yellow or orange with large black spots.
Oceanic Mantas feed on plankton and fish that swim near them. Mantas have small teeth inside their mouths to hold onto their prey. Unlike most species of rays, mantas are filter feeders, which means they only eat tiny bits at a time.
9. Southern Stingray
There are many different types of rays, but one you might not know about is a stingray. Stingrays live near coral reefs and can be found in warm and temperate waters worldwide. Stingrays are also called Southern stingrays or freshwater whip rays.
They get their name from their barbed, poisonous tail, which can cause serious injury or even death to likely threats. It’s best to avoid them altogether, but if you find yourself close, it’s best to keep your hands off.
Be sure not to touch them as these spines easily pierce human skin and can release a neurotoxin. Releasing this neurotoxin leads to breathing problems and possibly even death if left untreated.
10. Whiptail Stingray
The whiptail stingray is one type of Ray you’re more likely to see in pet stores than out in nature. Stingrays have been kept as pets for more than a hundred years, and many make good companions for people willing to devote time to properly caring for them.
If you’re interested in getting a whiptail stingray, choose a reputable supplier that knows how to keep them healthy. The average lifespan of a whiptail stingray is about 40 years, roughly double that of its freshwater cousins.
11. Blue Spotted Ribbontail Stingray
The blue-spotted ribbontail stingray is found in tropical oceans around the world. They live in coastal waters and prefer sandy, silty, and muddy substrates.
These rays are ovoviviparous, and males provide parental care by holding eggs between their pelvic fins until they hatch.
The sting from a blue-spotted ribbontail stingray is considered to be quite potent. The Sting of this Ray contains tetrodotoxin which can paralyze small prey so that You may eat it more easily.
However, these rays are not considered dangerous to humans unless provoked or stepped on, so divers often swim with them.
12. Deepwater Stingray
The Deepwater Stingray, often confused with other types of stingrays, is a small species that live in very deep waters.
You can find it at depths ranging from 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) to 4,600 feet (1,400 meters). It’s bottom-dwelling and usually rests on a rocky sea floor or sandy areas.
The Deepwater Stingray has a big and wide mouth that contains teeth. They are grayish-brown on top and lighter underneath; they also have numerous fin rays.
The maximum size it reaches is 8 inches (20 centimeters). It’s one of the different types of Rays that have been observed to feed mainly on bony fish such as mullets and needlefish.
13. Butterfly Ray
As you probably know, butterflies are brightly colored creatures that You can find everywhere. Some people, however, have a hard time telling one butterfly from another; luckily for them, there’s Butterfly Ray.
This remarkable creature looks like an exotic butterfly (with vibrant orange-and-black wings) but is a fish.
It’s found in tropical oceans and lakes throughout Africa and Asia, swimming through reefs and sand. These types of Rays are a good part of its ecosystem, as it eats small crustaceans and zooplankton such as krills.
Fortunately, they’re not harmful to humans, so we can enjoy watching them swim around without worrying too much about being attacked!
14. Bat Ray
The bat ray is a part of a group called skates, but they are not closely related to other skates. There are approximately 50 species, ranging in length from 18-43 inches (46–110 cm). Some members of this group can weigh up to 200 pounds.
The name bat ray comes from their long, slender bodies and wings that resemble those of a bat. They’re a different type of Ray found in oceans worldwide, though most often in subtropical and tropical areas.
They spend much of their time near shore and feed on mollusks, crustaceans, worms, and small fish. They are known to be curious creatures who sometimes approach divers or swim right up to snorkelers!
When threatened by predators like sharks or killer whales, bat rays will emit a noxious fluid from pores along their backside.
This chemical defense is highly effective at repelling attackers—and it’s also poisonous if ingested! One human death has been attributed to bat ray toxin exposure.
Rays are a type of fish that live in water bodies, and there are more different types of rays in existence. Most belong to just one family, but there are a few rays that reside in multiple families. There are one ray species whose taxonomy isn’t even settled yet!
In general, rays aren’t very closely related; most have fairly different body structures and ways of moving through their environment. One thing they do have in common is some pretty striking patterns on their skin.
Some rely on these patterns for camouflage or protection from predators. Others use their patterns for social interaction with other rays and animals.