The marble ray is a stingray native to the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Oceans. It gets its common name from the mottled pattern that adorns its upper body. Like sharks, stingrays and other rays have skeletons made entirely of cartilage instead of bone.
Scientific & Common Names
Genus: Taeniura or Taeniurops
Species: T. meyeni
Common Names: Round Ribbontail Ray, Marbled Stingray
The marble ray has a flattened, body like a pancake, with a long tail that extends behind it. The upper side of its body features a pattern of mottled dark and light spots. The number of spots, as well as their size, varies from individual to individual. Their large disc shaped bodies can measure nearly six feet across when fully grown.
The underside of the ray is white. It’s a bottom dwelling fish, with eyes located on top of its body to see potential predators, and a mouth underneath to gobble up molluscs and crustaceans.
Marble rays sometimes gather in large numbers of over a hundred individuals to engage in reproduction. Females give birth to live young, up to seven in each litter. When born, they measure up to 14 inches across and over 2 feet long (including their tail).
Marble rays are active mainly at night, and usually lay still on the seabed for much of the day. It catches its prey by blowing water on the sandy sea bottom, stirring up crabs, shrimps, and other tasty creatures.
Like other stingrays, it has a large, barbed spine on its tail that it can use to defend itself if threatened. The spine is venomous and can inflict a painful wound.
Marble rays, despite their fearsome methods of defense, are relatively calm and docile creatures. They’re also curious and are known to approach divers. They’re very popular in many areas of the Indo-Pacific for eco-tourism, as they gather in large numbers and their unique patterns and non-aggressive demeanor make them attractive to divers and snorkelers.
Marble rays are considered Vulnerable due to the destruction of its reef habitat and overfishing. Its slow reproductive rate means new rays are not born quick enough to replace those lost through commercial fishing and habitat loss. If these threats are not addressed soon, the ray could become endangered, or worse, extinct.