Rays identification guide


Rays are majestic fish, which can be distinguished by their flattened bodies and their winglike fins. There are as many as 500 ray species in the world. While some rays, such as the oceanic manta ray (the largest ray species, which can reach 7m in wingspan) generally “fly” in open water, some others are bottom swimmers. This is particularly the case for stingrays, which also have one or more poisonous stings at the base of the tail, which can cause serious injuries. Some other species, like torpedo rays (however much rarer), can produce and electric discharge in case of danger.

Where are rays found?

It is relatively easy for snorkelers to spot rays. The reef manta ray, which lives in all tropical seas of the world, is common in the Maldives reef drop offs, in the Tuamotu Islands passes, or on some specific spots in Big Island and Indonesia. Aetobatus ocellatus (found in the Indopacific, and really abundant in the Seychelles), Aetobatus laticeps (which occurs in the Eastern Pacific) and Aetobatus narinari (found in the Caribbean), the spotted eagle rays, are almost indistinguishable from each other. The Southern stingray is the most common ray in the Caribbean. You can see it randomly almost everywhere in the archipelago. In some snorkeling sites in Cayman Islands, Belize or Antigua, they are even tamed and fed by local tour operators. In Tahiti and Moorea, the pink whipray is common in the lagoons. Finally, recognizable by its colorful pattern, the bluespotted ribbontail ray is common at reef in Southeast Asia and the Great Barrier Reef.

Circumtropical rays

Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean rays

Indian and Pacific Oceans rays

Eastern Pacific rays

Do you like rays?

Check out our top10 snorkeling spots to swim with rays!

Discover more fish families
Shark

Sharks

Sea turtle

Sea turtles

Moray eel

Moray eels

Marine life ID guide

See all fish families

Still trying to identify a fish you've seen?
Ask our experts!

Our underwater life experts are here to help you identify a species you've seen. Please specify where you saw this species and, if possible, attach a photo

fish-id-guides

Have a look at the best identification fish guides to learn more about marine life!

Want to learn more about the species you observed or photographed under water? The identification guides are true treasures for those curious to know about the undersea world! These books show, in the form of images or drawings, the species of certain environments (such as coral reefs) or certain regions of the world (such as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean or the Red Sea). If some guides are limited to fish, others describe all the local underwater fauna and flora. True scientific works, the identification guides are also a beautiful way to prepare for our future snorkeling explorations!