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Cownose ray

Cownose ray

(Rhinoptera bonasus)

The cownose ray is found in the western Atlantic from New England south to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and Brazil. It also occurs in the eastern Atlantic along limited sections of the coast of Africa. This species is most often seen swimming near the surface in coastal waters in schools that can number in the thousands of individuals. These schools are largest when this ray is undertaking its seasonal migrations.

The cownose ray can reach four to five feet across. It has a brown to olive coloration on its back and a white underside. Its tail is whip-like and has one or two barbs at its base near the body. It has a uniquely shaped forehead that resembles a cow’s nose, hence its name.

Visit the touch pool at the Georgia Explorer gallery and feel the smooth back of the cownose ray.

Fun Facts

  • The cownose ray uses its pectoral fins (wings) to stir up the bottom to find clams, shrimp, crabs and other small invertebrate prey.
  • It uses its strong, plate-like teeth for crushing the shells of its prey.
  • This ray has a horizontal groove along the front of its snout with a bi-lobed flap below that it uses to root around in the sand for food.
  • The cownose ray gives birth to live young.
  • This species is considered to be “oceanadromous”, meaning it undertakes long migrations to different parts of the ocean.
  • Download full fact sheet

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