Ella Bay’s Whiptail ray Himantura uarnak…at least that’s what I thought it was!
As I returned from a walk along Ella Bay I noticed a large dead stingray being washed around in the shallows.
I turned it over and looked for any signs of trauma but it seemed uninjured.
It looked a lot like a Reticulate whiptail ray Himantura uarnak. This species has lots of common names like Honeycomb ray and Leopard ray and is indeed common in this part of the world.
Of course the shallow waters of Ella Bay are very popular with sting rays as they contain good populations of bivalve shellfish (pipis) which are a favorite stingray food item.
When wading in the water at Ella Bay I am always wary, as stepping on a stingray really knocks the wind out of me and it usually takes a few minutes for me to regain my composure. No problems with this for a while as I won’t be wading around Ella Bay much with box jellyfish season upon us!
I turned the ray back over and took a couple of final shots and left it in the water to become a meal for a shark or a saltwater crocodile.
On returning home I looked this ray up and deduced it was a reticulate whiptail ray Himantura uarnak. There was quite a bit of information available regarding these beautiful rays. Instead of me raving on and on here’s a couple of links to some of this information: on FishBase and wikipedia.
Well that’s it I thought case closed!
But then I noticed this ray had two spines on its tail and not one as noted in the description for Himantura uarnak.
Interestingly I noticed a Townsville ray also had a similar pair of spines.
Oh well back to the drawing board…Anyone know a ray expert??