There are several species of rays that are commonly seen in the waters around the Galapagos islands. You can often see rays swimming in the clear water when you are kayaking, snorkeling or traveling by panga on an excursion. If you are on a diving cruise then you will be able to get really close to these elegant creatures. In the Galapagos, Rays can often be seen from the cliffs at South Plaza Island or even from the beach shore on Rabida Island or in a silent lagoon surrounded by a mangrove forest. There are several varieties that are resident in the archipelago:
Golden Rays are so-named because of their golden-coloured tops, but they can also be recognized by their blunt head and long, whip-like tails. They can vary in size but most are between 3 and 4 feet across from wingtip to wingtip. Golden Rays are often seen in the Galapagos diving sites swimming alone, but they can also be found swim in large schools in quiet, shallow lagoons. The best place to see schools of golden rays is at Black Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz island.
Spotted Eagle Rays have pointed heads and long tails with a spiny tip. Their most notable attribute is the white spots that cover their otherwise black top. In the Galapagos, Spotted Eagle Rays are also commonly sighted in large schools in smaller lagoons like Black Turtle Cove. You can also sometimes see them if your are snorkeling off the coast of Floreana Island.
Stingrays are common in the shallow beach areas and sandy-bottomed depths throughout the Galapagos. These grey rays have a long, narrow tail which ends in a nasty stinger that gives the fish its name. They vary in size and shape quite a lot, and some can grow to have a 5ft wingspan. Stingrays can often be spotted lurking on the seabed of the shallower snorkeling sites, and sometimes amongst the surf of Post Office Bay on Floreana Island.
Fast Facts about the Galapagos Sting Rays
- Rays are most closely related to sharks.
- Rays bodies contain no bones. Their skeleton is made up entirely of cartilage
- A stingray's venom is so poisonous that even a dead stingray's tail can kill a human.
- Feed on bottom dwelers like equinoderms (like sea cucumbers) and crustaceans,