Depending on the species, rays live in fresh or salt water.
At Newport Aquarium, you will see freshwater species in the Amazon Tunnel and in Dangerous & Deadly. Among the saltwater species are Honeycomb Whiptail Rays, Mangrove Whiprays, Southern Stingrays, Cownose Stingrays and Ribbontail Rays, all saltwater species.
Rays, skates and stingrays are closely related to sharks. Just like sharks, they have cartilaginous skeletons and no swim bladders.
Unlike sharks, the bodies of these fish tend to be flat and disc-like. This body shape makes them well suited for life on the bottom where the majority of these fish spend their lives.
A few species of rays (including Cownose) spend most of their time swimming through the open water.
Unlike sharks, ray teeth are not sharp at all but are small and rounded. The teeth are well-suited for crushing the hard shells of crustaceans and mollusks on which rays primarily feed.
Manta rays do not feed on the bottom at all, but filter small plankton from the water as they swim.
Stingrays are aptly named, as these have a sharp, venomous spine or “stinger” on their tail. This spine is used for self-defense when a stingray feels threatened and cannot escape from a predator.
Reproduction in the rays consists of either oviparity or ovoviviparity, both of which are discussed on our web page for sharks. Often, the large “mermaid purses” you find at the beach are the empty egg cases that once held baby rays.