Illustration of a blue spotted stingray by Alex Thornton
Illustration of a Blue-Spotted Stingray by Alex Thornton

What is a Blue Spotted Ribbontail Stingray?

Let me introduce to you the small but beautiful Blue Spotted Ribbontail Stingray (Taeniura lymma), or ‘blue-spotted ray’. These colourful little rays are a golden brown colour with bright blue spots all over the upper surface of their pectoral disc. They can vary in shades of gold and blue, some are pale, while others much darker, however you will know you’re looking at a blue spot ray because of those distinctive blue spots. Their body shape is rounded with a tail exhibiting two blue stripes. They are a part of the shark and ray class Chondrichthyes, meaning they have a cartilaginous skeleton.

Read More: Differences between Manta Rays, Stingrays, and Eagle Rays

Is the Blue Spotted Stingray Aggressive?

Being a stingray they also have two venomous barbs at the base of their tail. However, these are not a dangerous or aggressive animal. Stingrays use their barb as an absolute last resort, for example if they are trapped and their is no other way out than to stick their predator with the barb so they can escape. The main defence response for a stingray is to swim away.  So if you see one snorkeling do not be afraid but marvel at the beauty of such a creature.

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Bluespotted ribbontail ray
Bluespotted ribbontail ray is a species of stingray. Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash

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They are lovely little animals to encounter in the wild as they can be found among shallow coral reef zones, foraging for tasty morsels such as worms, crabs, molluscs and small fishes.

Blue spotted rays are fairly small, growing no larger than around 35 cm in width. They have rarely been seen deeper than 30 m, and are widely distributed within tropical reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific. Blue spotted rays have many large predators like the hammerhead shark, dolphins, marine mammals and large predatory fish, however being so small they can quickly zigzag their way to safety. Their lifespan can vary from 15-25 years.

Due to their fairly small size and beautiful colouring they are very popular among home aquariums, however are quite difficult to take care of and many are known to die. Public aquariums have been very successful in keeping these animals and even breeding them.

Read More: Our Interview with a Shark Dive Instructor from the Melbourne Aquarium

Lucky for the Blue Spotted stingray they are very common and are not threatened or near endangerment at this stage. By educating ourselves about creatures like these beautiful rays helps us to understand their behaviour, allowing us to better harmoniously co-exist with them.