Life of Sea | Marbled Ray (Taeniura meyeni) | Marbled ray or Blotched fantail ray is a species of stingray in the family Dasyatidae that is found in the nearshore waters of the tropical Indo-Pacific, but also from islands in the eastern Pacific. It is singly or in aggregates and usually found with connections and cobia swimming in their neighborhood to a maximum depth of 500 m. It is a bottom-dwelling resident of lagoons, estuaries, and reefs. Thislargeradiusis characterized byathick,roundedpectoral fins,drive underthe littleknobs onthe top,andarelativelyshorttail withadeepventral finfold.It also has avariable,butdistinctivelight and darkmottledpattern onthe topandablack tail.
Species: T. meyeni
The Marbled ray has a thick pectoral disc wider than long, with a well-rounded outer margin. The eyes are medium size and are followed by large spiracles. There is a short and wide curtain of skin between the nostrils oval, with a finely fringed trailing margin. The mouth is wide and curved, with faint grooves on the corners. There is a row of seven papillae on the floor, the outer pair smaller and distinct from the others. The ventral fins are small and narrow.
The tail is relatively short, not exceeding the width of the disk, and carries one (rarely two) long, serrated stinging spine on the upper surface. The base of the tail is broad, along the spine of the tail rapidly thinning, and carries a deep crease that runs ventral fin to the tail tip. The upper surface of the rotor and the tail roughened by a consistent coverage of small, widely spaced grains. There is also a center row of sharp tubercles on the back, with two rows of shorter side.
TheMarbled ray hasnocturnalhabitsand restmotionlessfor muchof the day,often nearvertical structures,in cavesor underledges.It can besolitary orform smallto largegroups.This rayis oftenovershadowedbyoneormoreconnections orcobia,these smallerfish tofeed onfoodsparked bythe activities ofthe radius,oruse thebodysprayas cover forapproachingtheirprey.When feeding,ittakesadistinctiveposition in which themarginof the discpressesagainst the bottomand takein waterthrough itsspiracles,that blowsthrough his mouthto detectpreyburied inthe sediment.
This species canfall prey tolarger fishsuch assharksandmarine mammals.When threatened,it raisesitstail overhis back,allowingthe spineto the frontfaces,andwaves itback and forth.The dorsal color is light to dark gray, brown, gray, or purple, and was most intense at the fin margins, with a highly variable pattern of irregular dark spots and white spots or stripes. The tail along the spine, including the fin fold, uniformly black, while the underside is creamy white with dark fin margins and extra points. Young Marbled ray are more common in color than adults. The Marbled ray feeds on bottom fish, bivalves outside, crabs and shrimp.
The Marbled ray is not aggressive, and is known to approach and investigate divers. However, if harassed may impose a severe wound with its poisonous tail spine. This species is responsible for at least one death recorded, a diver who was stabbed during an attempt to drive the jet. The blotched fantail ray is popular with divers because of its ecotourist size and spectacular appearance. From South Africa, the blotched fantail ray incidentally captured by prawn trawlers in offshore banks, but is not used. Because of the size and strength, is also appreciated by sport fishermen, who usually go unharmed. South Africa proposes a recreational bag limit of one beam per species per person per day, and not allow spearfishing for this species.