Round stingray at El Diente (name
of dive site), Las Islas Catalinas, Pacific Coast of
Male round stingray during the mating season. Mulege, Baja, Mexico. Note blue eyes.
adult round stingray, Mulege, Baja, Mexico.
stingray displaying golden spots and reticulations. Playa El Burro, Baja.
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Common Names: Round stingray, Haller's
Circular disc, no dorsal fin, tail shorter than disc
length, sting present on tail. Dorsum smooth (no tubercles). Colour highly
variable: golden yellow, pinkish grey, light or dark brown or completely black.
Often pale with a covering pattern of small dark spots and/or reticulated lines reversing
in color towards the tail. Ventrum generally pale but
yellow or dark near the disc margin on dark individuals. Eyes generally golden
but may appear blue in very old animals. Blueness probably caused by a rheumy
film rather than an an actual change in pigmentation.
Maximum length 56cm.
Intertidal to 90m on sand or mud sometimes around reefs.
Maybe locally abundant in shallow bays in the
Sea of Cortez. Commonly encountered resting/foraging in the surf zone in
Northern California to Panama.
Nocturnal. Lays motionless during the day. Digs for worms and
crustaceans at night.
Male grasps female from behind and attempts to subdue her and turn her over to
mate. See images below:
Santa Catalinas, Costa Rica.
Cortez round stingray. Similar but with conspicuous
blotches on pale dorsum.
Reaction to divers:
From experience, easily approached in Costa Rica with
slow movements but very difficult to get close to in the Sea of Cortez and
Older animals tend to move a bit slower and tolerate closer observation.
I dove with these rays from a dive boat run by Agua
Rica Dive Shop out of Tamarindo, Costa Rica. The dive sites around Las Islas
Catalinas are also a good place to find schooling Cownose rays, Bulls-eye
electric rays and the
occasional reef whitetip shark . The dive shops
in Playas del Coco (to the north) also run charters to these sites.
In the shallow bays of Baja, Mexico
these rays are sometimes so abundant that safely wading through
the shallows without running the risk of treading on a round stingray is almost
impossible. Two of the places that I have seen the most round stingrays are the
town beach in Mulege (near the lighthouse) and Playa El Burro a few kms to the
south. All of the beaches in this region are probably good.