Bull Ray, Pteromylaeus bovinus
The bull ray is found in the warm coastal waters, lagoons, and estuaries of Europe and Africa, mainly in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Black Sea, and Mediterranean Sea. The full distribution of this species is unclear. It swims both near the surface and on the bottom to feed in small groups at depths of 200 ft or more, sometimes leaping out of the water. Occasionally it is called a duckbill ray in the region of South Africa.
The shape of the head is where the bull ray gets its name; the body is long and flat with a round snout. From the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail, a bull ray is usually around 5 foot, but some have been recorded of 8 foot or more. From wing tip to wing tip it can reach a width of 6 feet, weigh 220 lbs., also the female of this species is larger than the male. It is light brown in color with several pale blue-grey stripes. The mouth usually contains seven rows of flat teeth. The tail spine on the female averages 2.4 inches, while the male spine will average 1.3 inches.
The bull ray is a bottom-feeder living on crustaceans, mollusks, small squid and crabs.
Gestation for the bull ray is about 6 months; the embryos will feed on the yolk after fertilization until the yolk is gone then will receive nourishment by absorption of protein rich uterine fluid from the female. The female bull ray will give birth to 3 – 7 young around 17 inches in width.
The bull ray is a prized game fish with a highly esteemed flesh, but it is often released. It is considered harmless to humans and is not on any endangered list.
Image Credit: David Sim/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)