Hypanus americanus

Hypanus americanus, or also known as southern stingray, is a species belonging to the family Dasyatidae within the order Myliobatiformes. It is common to shallow waters and predominantly sandy bottoms, in which it is partially buried to go unnoticed. It is widely distributed along the coasts of the western Atlantic Ocean, from the coasts of New Jersey, through Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas and the Antilles, to the South American coasts of Brazil.

Source: FAO

The disc of these rays acquires a rhombus shape, somewhat wider than long, with a maximum length of 1.5 meters. In the center of the disc, they have some protuberances forming a ridge, that are distributed irregularly in young or not completely mature specimens, or regularly in mature specimens. The mouth of Hypanus americanus, located in the ventral region of the animal, is slightly arched and has between 39 and 56 rows of teeth inside. In the female specimens, as well as in the young ones, the teeth of the mouth have rounded cusps. In mature males, the cusps of the teeth are pointed. The pelvic fins that make up much of the disc, have almost straight front margins and rounded outer corners. It lacks both dorsal and caudal fins. At the end of the disc, it has a long thin tail, whose length usually exceeds that of the disc itself. Usually shortly after the base of the tail, they have 1 spine (although it may have more or even none) with serrated edges and it is associated with a poison gland. Behind the spine, and on the dorsal side of the tail, it has an indentation that runs the entire length of the tail. The body color of Hypanus americanus by its dorsal surface is light brown, gray or olive green, with a pale spot in the center of the snout just in front of the eyes. The ventral surface is white with the margins a little darker and of gray or brown colors. The longitudinal crest formed by the dorsal protuberances, as well as the fold of the tail are dark brown.

Hypanus americanus is a species considered a great swimmer. It is capable of migrating in the summer months to waters located at higher latitudes, a process by which it travels considerable distances.

The diet of Hypanus americanus consists of invertebrates from the sea floor, among which we highlight the bivalves, crustaceans and occasionally small fish.

The male specimens of Hypanus americanus reach sexual maturity when their disc grow over 51 cm wide. Females take a little longer, and are fully fertile from disc width of 75-80 cm. Females are capable of giving birth to between 3 and 5 pups, whose discs sizes at birth are 17 to 18 cm wide.