Also known as the smooth stingray, the short-tail stingray is widespread throughout temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere. It is considered common or abundant in most parts of its range, and is found in Southern Africa
from the Zambezi River to Cape Town. This population is separate to those in Australia and New Zealand. The short-tail stingray thrives in a wide range of habitats up to 480 metres deep. With a maximum disc width of at least 210 centimetres, it is one of the world’s largest stingrays. It is grey-brown or bluish-grey on top and white underneath, with a series of pale blue spots at each pectoral fin base. The tail is shorter than or equal to the disc length. This stingray is viviparous, giving birth to between six and 10 live young.
Round Ribbontail Ray
The round ribbontail ray is known by many different names, including blotched fantail ray, black-spotted stingray and speckled stingray. It is widely distributed throughout the Indo-West Pacific, where it is associated with sandy seafloors and coral reefs.
It has been recorded at depths of up to 439 metres. This species is viviparous, giving birth to litters of up to seven pups. The round ribbontail ray has a maximum disc width of up to 180 centimetres, and may be easily identified by the black-and- white mottled pattern of its dorsal surface. It is white underneath, and has a distinctly circular disc shape. Overfishing has led to a 30% decline of the species’ population size over the course of the last 65 years, and as such it is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
The honeycomb stingray is widely distributed throughout the Indian and Western Pacific oceans. It has many different names, including reticulate whipray, leopard stingray and marbled stingray. Generally considered uncommon and classified as Vulnerable on
the IUCN Red List, it is nevertheless spotted quite frequently on Aliwal Shoal. The honeycomb stingray favours sandy areas on coral reefs and in lagoons and estuaries, and may be found at depths of up to 50 metres. It is a large ray, with a maximum disc width of 160 centimetres. White underneath and light brown on top, it is easily identified by its conspicuous black spots and sharply pointed snout. Its tail, which may measure almost three times the length of its body, is banded with black and white.
The blue stingray is found from Angola to KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, although some sources believe that its range extends into Mozambique and beyond. It spends the summer months in shallow bays, then moves offshore to depths of up to 100 metres
in winter. Its diet consists of bony fish and crustaceans, including sea lice and marine worms. With a maximum disc width of 75 centimetres, it is a small stingray, with a kite-shaped sandy body and irregular pale blue spots and patches. Females live for 14 years and are ovoviviparous, giving birth to litters of between one and five live pups. Males live for just nine years. This species is commonly caught by recreational anglers, but because it is usually released it is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
The bluespotted stingray is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List because it is thought that there may be as many as five distinct species grouped under the single existing species name. It is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific, and thrives in a variety of different
habitats including sandy bottoms, rocky and coral reefs and intertidal zones. It has been reported at depths of up to 90 metres. The bluespotted stingray is small, with a short snout and a maximum disc width of 47 centimetres. It is white underneath and reddish brown on top, with a series of bright blue ocelli and small black spots scattered across its dorsal surface. It occasionally buries itself in the sand, leaving only its eyes and tail visible; and feeds on a diet of crabs and shrimp.
The Jenkins’ whipray is patchily distributed in the inshore waters of the Indian and Western Central Pacific oceans. Although it has been recorded at depths of up to 90 metres, it is thought to prefer sandy substrates with a depth of 50 metres or less. A particularly large ray, the
Jenkins’ whipray has a maximum disc width of at least 150 centimetres, and may grow up to a total length of 300 centimetres. It is most easily identified by its size. Otherwise, it is plain brown in colour (although South African specimens have dark spots along the posterior margin of their disc). Their bodies are kite-shaped, and their tails are exceptionally long when intact. The Jenkins’ whipray is classified as Vulnerable due to overfishing in parts of its range and a decreasing global population.
The diamond ray is known by several names, including butterfly ray and short-tailed ray. It is endemic to Southern Africa, and occurs from central Namibia to southern Mozambique at depths of up to 75 metres. It is thought to prefer sandy beaches and offshore banks.
Typically, the diamond ray is found singly on the seafloor, and in large shoals in mid-water. It feeds on small fish and crustaceans and reaches a maximum length of 250 centimetres. The diamond-shaped disc is almost twice as wide as it is long. This ray can change its mottled grey, green or brown colouring to match the surrounding substrate, while its black-and- white banded tail is shorter than its body. Once thought to be common, new population data is needed to confirm the species’ conservation status.