spotted eagle ray

X is for X'tun

X'tun are commonly called spotted eagle rays. They are one of 3 types of rays inhabiting the waters of Belize. The spotted eagle ray is covered with large white and cream-colored spots on dark background and has a white underbelly. This ray has a shovel¬shaped snout with a duckbilled mouth that is sensitive to smells and electrical currents. They are completely composed of cartilage; they have no bones. The most striking feature of rays, however, is what is known as cephalic fins, the wing-like appendages that allow them to "fly." On the spotted eagle ray the "wings" are pointed. These rays can leap impressive distances out of the water. Their fins may measure up to 71/2 feet across and these rays may weigh 150-500 pounds. Spotted eagle rays have a whip-like tail that may be twice as long as its body and contain 1-5 spines at the base that contain venom.

These rays can be found along reefs, walls and sandy areas, including shallow areas. Spotted eagle rays generally swim alone, although they are sometimes observed in pairs and occasionally schools.

Spotted eagle rays are bottom feeders, eating crabs, conch, oysters, small fish and crustaceans. They have powerful jaws and grinding teeth to crack shells.

Once the rays reach sexual maturity, females give birth to 1-2 per litter. Each pup hatches inside the female and then is born alive.

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