Little Ray Stingray and Shark Book
July 2018 by V. R. Duin


Sometimes when we trip or fumble,
Teamwork may just stop our stumble.
That's why we must always show respect
To help that comes as we least expect.
(“Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up”)

“Fishy Fish” expands “Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up” to show differences between stingrays and manta rays and sharks. These cartilaginous fish without bones or scales, may have teeth and may have tongues.

Stingrays are part of the shark family. Stingrays, rays and sharks do not look or live alike. Children might be surprised by the huge size of giant mantas and whale sharks. Sharks can be tiny.

It can be hard to separate fish body parts. People look more like each other than these fish. There is a shark that looks like a stingray. Shapes, forms and styles allow, change or stop the performance of some activities.

Cartilaginous fish are made of cartilage. Cartilage forms the outside ear of people. It is in joints and other body parts inside the body. Human babies have more cartilage than adults. It is replaced by bone.

Sharks are ancient fish. They did not lose cartilage over the centuries they have been on earth. They have no bones and they have no scales. Like bones, cartilage breaks and wears out, but it is harder for nature to repair.

Manta rays, Great White, Hammerhead, Mako and Whale sharks have to keep swimming. If they stop, they sink. Most fish have swim bladders to help them move up and down in the water. Swim bladders may aid survival in dirty water.

Fish in the shark family have no swim bladders. Some sharks store fats and oils in their livers to make up for the missing swim bladders. Rays and bottom-dwelling sharks have large, flat fins to control their level in water.

All fish have gills. Lungs are inside the body. Gills are outside the body. Gills are behind the eyes on the heads of most sharks. The gills of stingrays, rays and some sharks are under their heads.

The large number of slit openings into the gills of fish in the shark family is unique. Most stingrays and sharks have five pairs of gill slits. Each of these opens into one gill. Bony fish have one opening to their many gills.

Before they are born, people have gill-like parts. Gills are used to breathe. Bony fish and some sharks pump water from their mouths to their gills. Some animals have breathing holes, called “spiracles”.

Spiders and insects have spiracles on their bodies. They are on the heads of water animals with them. They are called blow holes in whales and dolphins. They assist breathing. They are nonfunctional in mantas.

Fish have pairs of pectoral fins. Rays do not swim like most other fish. Some rays swim with a wavy motion. Some rays flap their pectoral fins like bird wings. Most fish steer with their pectoral fins.

Hammerhead sharks swim on their sides. Most sharks, electric rays and bony fish move with tail fins, called “caudal fins”. The dorsal fin keeps fish upright. It is small or missing in flat rays and sharks.

Sharks are the only fish that cannot swim backwards. When pulled backwards, they die. Sharks often cruise slowly. Most rays are elegant swimmers. Electric rays are lazy swimmers. Among the fastest ocean swimmers are:Lamnid Sharks in GURPS.

Manta rays, whale sharks and most sharks have eyes on the side. According to Sphyrnid Sharks in GURPS, or hammerheads, have eyes on each end of their hammer-shaped head. Angel sharks and most rays have have them on top of their heads.

All fish have mouths. A stingray's mouth is under its body. A shark's mouth is in the front of its head. Manta rays also have front-facing mouths. Not all fish have teeth in their mouths.

The nose holes of fish are called nares. They give fish a sense of smell. The nose holes of cartilaginous fish are under their bodies. The nares of a fish are not connected to the mouth or throat.

Nares are not used for breathing. The nostrils of flat-faced dogs may be called nares, which is confusing. Their narrow nostrils make it harder for these dogs to breathe.

Fish have no ear openings. Hearing parts are inside. Some fish hear with ear parts. Others use lateral lines to sense sound vibrations. Like sonar domes on vessels, fish use sound to find and size up obstacles and targets.

Fish may hear frequencies that people cannot. Fish can find their way with sound. They may hear sounds over greater distances. Learn more from DOSIT about What sounds can animals hear?.

Few fish can see in the dark. Sight depends upon light. Some fish need periods of light and dark. Others live in total darkness. They can be blind. Fish that glow may be trying to attract a mate or give warning.

Most fish have tongues or tongue-like parts. Stingrays and sharks have small tongues made of cartilage on the floor of their mouths. Bony fish have bony tongues called “basihyals”.

All fish can taste. Taste is sensed by the body surface of some fish. Catfish and saw sharks taste with whiskers, called “barbels”. Stingrays and Sharks have taste buds in their mouths and throats.

Bull Sharks, River Sharks and some kinds of stingrays can live in freshwater. has interesting facts about them. Most land animals cannot drink saltwater. It can kill them.

Bony fish drink and leak water. Water enters through their mouths and their gills. They have a pore to release urine. Stingrays and sharks do not drink water or leak water. It comes from their food.

Most saltwater fish urinate through their gills. Sharks have a gland near the anus to discharge urea. Rays and sharks can store urea. All fish have kidneys to filter wastes.

Sharks shed tens of thousands of teeth during their lifetimes. Divers and beachcombers often find them. Stingray tooth findings are rare. An occasional tooth may be shed and replaced.

Shark teeth grow in rows. As front rows wear out or fall out, new rows move forward to replace them about every two weeks. Tooth damage can be hastened by snacking on cans, tires and other trash.

There are trees on earth that outlive all animals. Stingrays and Manta rays live about twenty years. Greenland sharks may live as long as 400 years. Turtles, tortoises and whales also live long lives.

Most fish have scales. Clingfish, eels, anglerfish and cartilaginous fish have no scales. The bumpy “denticles” form a regular pattern in sharks and irregular in stingrays.

Denticles may repel germs. Sharklet Technologies, Inc. is creating bumpy plastic medical wraps to ward infection. The CDC warns about water contamination in: Healthy Pets, Healthy People.

Contact with shark skin can cause injury. With denticles, it can be used as sandpaper. Without denticles, it can be used like leather. Denticles do not get larger as the fish grows. They grow more denticles to fill the space.

Stingray skin has a bead-like appearance. It feels slimy. The skin of electric rays is smooth and flabby. It has no denticles. Many fish have protective mucous coatings. Fish scales grow with the fish.

There are electric fields on land and in water. Some fish make electricity. Others feel it. This electric sense helps some fish with hunting. Manta rays have no electro-receptors.

Most fish are cold-blooded. They take on the temperature of their environment. Water drains body heat faster than air. Wet suits and heated pools are used for human protection.

Mako and Great White Sharks can raise the temperature of body parts. This improves performance in cold waters. According to Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea, Alopiid Sharks are warm-blooded.

Differences between stingrays and manta rays and sharks:

  • cartilaginous fish family Little Ray says:

    Some cartilaginous fish can be purchased from tropical fish stores, but stingrays and manta rays and sharks don't belong in the same aquarium.

  • compare stingrays and sharks Little Ray says:

    In Little Ray's books, cartilaginous fish travel together, so children can compare them and learn critical thinking skills.

    • fishy fishLittle Ray says:

      Encounters with stingrays and sharks may require protective equipment to keep people safe, but manta rays won't stir up trouble.