These rays travel through the water column in large groups, or schools.

When searching for food, they kick up underwater sand storms.

Size  Up to 48 inches wide

Diet  Oysters, clams, snails and crabs

Lifespan  Thought to be 13 to 18 years

Range  Atlantic Ocean from New England to the south Caribbean, including Yucatan, northern parts of south America, western Africa and the Cape Verde Islands

Habitat  These rays swim near the coastline and can be found in waters up to 72 feet deep.

Predators  Although cownose rays can grow large enough to fend off most predators, they are still hunted by large sharks such as great hammerhead and bull sharks.

Relatives  Cownose rays are one of 42 species that belong to the Myliobatidae family that includes eagle rays and manta rays. Rays are closely related to sharks and skates.

Family life  This species of ray is known for traveling in large groups. Schools of up to 10,000 rays have been seen between Florida and the Yucatan in Mexico. Like many species of sharks and rays, cownose rays develop within eggs that are carried and hatch in their mother’s uterus. Mothers usually give birth to one pup per pregnancy.

Conservation status  Near Threatened  The current population of cownose rays has not been accurately measured, but the species may be at risk due to fishing. These rays reproduce slowly, making it hard for them to recover from such threats.

(source: IUCN)

Explore other profiles   Check out moon jellies and California sea lions.