Friday, January 11, 2013

Smooth Butterfly Ray

Gymnura micrura
The Smooth Butterfly Ray, with its sleek body (thanks to very tiny denticles), actually has a genus name to match-- Gymnura derives from the Greek word for "naked." They are medium-sized rays, with males growing about four feet across and females reaching around 2.5.

These Rays live in the Atlantic Ocean, typically in tropical waters though they can be found as far north as Maryland. They live on the soft sediment bottoms of the continental shelves, feeding on small fish, crustaceans, and bivalves. On occasion they will swim into estuaries and brackish waters.

The species is Ovoviviparous, a term I do not get to use nearly enough. This means that they give birth to live young, but these young are still incubated in eggs... just inside the mothers body (aka there is no direct placental connection between mother and child). They have 3-4 pups per litter.

Smooth Butterfly Rays and humans don't have much interaction with one another. They aren't fished on any large commercial scale, and are only consumed in a handful of countries. They are not dangerous, as they don't posses spines. Currently they are listed as being Data Deficient.

IUCN Status : Data Deficient
Location : Atlantic Ocean
Size : Width up to 4ft (1.2m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Chondrichthyes -- Order : Myliobatiformes
Family : Gymnuridae -- Genus : Gymnura -- Species : G. micrura

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