At the Texas State Aquarium, we’re slinging stingray science!
The stingrays featured in our exhibits are the Southern, Atlantic, and cownose species, and they are all native to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Atlantic stingray is actually pointed and resembles the letter “A.” The cownose has a rounded nose that very much looks like a cow’s, and the Southern stingray is equipped with a wide-angled wingspan. All stingrays’ mouths are located on the bottom of their bodies and most contain crush plates, allowing them to break through the tough shells of crustaceans like shrimp, clams, and crab.
While pop culture and certain accounts assert otherwise, stingrays are not naturally aggressive animals. The often misunderstood creatures will only protect themselves when they feel threatened. One way to make sure you don’t accidentally scare one is to make sure you always do the “Stingray Shuffle.” When walking or wading in shallow waters where these animals live, place your feet right next to each other, and take short steps, being sure to kick up sand. Walking like this will trigger the stingray’s electrical sensors and alert them to your presence, allowing them ample time to swim away.
Stingray barbs – the pointed tips of their tails – are poisonous and can be dangerous. If you or someone you know is ever stung by a stingray, do NOT pull the barb out. Barbs have sharp, serrated edges like steak knives. After seeking immediate medical attention, either rinse the area with hot water, or wrap a towel soaked in hot water around the wounded area. Because a stingray’s toxin is protein-based, very hot water helps to break it down.
Stingrays are cartilaginous animals and belong to the same family as sharks and skate.
You can visit our stingrays in the Stingray Lagoon, Amazon, and Shark Touch exhibits!