Observing Spotted Eagle Rays

Spotted Eagle Rays in the Galapagos Islands

Aetobatus Narinari commonly known as the Spotted Eagle Ray is one of my favorites in the ray family. Spotted Eagle Rays are one of the most distinctive species of rays due to the white spots and rings across their dorsal surface and triangular disc or “wings”. Their underside is usually white in color.

Spotted Eagle Rays can be found in tropical regions in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are generally solitary animals but have been observed swimming in groups in deeper waters. The Rays in the above video were observed around the Galapagos Islands on several dives. It’s always thrilling to watch them swim through the water column or forage along a sandy ocean bottom.

The Spotted Eagle Rays can grow to a length of about 16 feet and weigh between 400-500 pounds. They commonly feed on small fish and crustaceans. If fortunate, you might be able to observe them dig their snout into the sand for buried food. I have observed them dining in the Caribbean but I have not been close enough to capture the action on camera.

Unlike other species of rays, Spotted Eagle Rays have very long tails. Behind the pelvic fins are several venomous barbed stingers which can be fatal to humans. In the underwater video below, I got a little too close. Luckily, the ray didn’t notice me and my silly camera. I shot the video below off the coast of Bonaire in the Caribbean.

Spotted Eagle Rays can also be found in the Caribbean.

Spotted Eagle Rays are hunted by a wide variety of sharks. However, their biggest threat are humans. They are mostly netted as by-catch by commercial fishers and thrown back into the sea, dead. Unfortunately, Spotted Eagle Rays are now listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List.

I shot these images over several years using the following equipment: Gopro Hero 6 Black. My current underwater camera set up can be found here.

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