Little Ray was tired of lazing in pools,
watching fellow fish in herd-like schools.
The blue sky looked so clear and bright.
Little Ray wanted to join the birds in flight.
(The Amazing Flight of Little Ray)
The Amazing Flight of Little Ray, about flying stingrays, shows how to motivate children to embrace the unknown to reach new heights of stingrays flying like birds.
Sand Castles? A Harris Poll showed 36% of Americans believe in UFOs. Rays do somersaults, flips, rolls, spins, twists and turns. While governments look for UFOs, fish lend fresh perspectives to flight goals.
Wanderlust? Little Ray plans to fly like a bird. With wing-like fins, he repeatedly hurls himself out of the water. Determination, practice and support structures help build confidence to overcome countless fears and false starts.
Shore Leave? Fish trajectories are range-bound. Fragile gills collapse out of water. The Amazing Flight of Little Ray is appropriately awkward, discomforting, exhausting, unsettling and meets with disruptive resistance.
Kick Back? Fish have feelings. Little Ray knows his Mama is worried. He hears strong reactions of beach-goers. External factors enhance motivation and guide awareness. Progress is spurred by accountability and monitoring.
Under the Sun? Sun aids navigation. Fish and bats have an additional electric guidance sense. Electric fields are on land and in water. Some fish produce electricity. Others feel it. Birds orient with the Earth's magnetic field.
Electro-Receptor Organs? Stingrays have acute ampullae of Lorenzini receptor cells and canals connecting to their skin. These sensitive body parts enable them to detect obstacles or prey along the way.
Organic Matter? Stingrays are made of cartilage. It is flexible, softens falls and equips the star of this story with the proper tool to make his downturns temporary. This Fishy Fish also catches lucky breaks to fall with great style.
Light Weight? Cartilage is not as dense as a bone skeleton. It is more flexible and weighs less. This may be advantageous to air flight. It also helps buoy themselves in water. They have no swim bladder for this purpose.
Lubricant? Fish liver oil is lighter than water. This substance compensates for the missing swim bladder in sharks. Rays do not have this buoyancy feature. Flat, light bodies and broad fins enable them to float in air or water.
Sheer Luck? Air has less drag than water. Fish take flight to find food or escape predators. Noise, temperature, chemistry, muddiness, filth or stench may bother them. They fly for fun, to express themselves or to show off.
Sudden Flights? Before takeoff, stingrays and sharks may vomit. Stress may send them airborne. Splashes knock off leeches, lice, parasites and worms. They have no access to drugs or alternative self-treatments in the wild.
Round Trip? Rays do not flap their fins to fly. They push off, reach the height of momentum, then start falling. Gravity makes it hard to stay airborne. Fish musculature is designed for undulating thrust through water.
Cut Above? Swimming and gliding speed enhances oxygen delivery by delivering a greater amount of oxygen with each breath. However, respiration in all animals is challenged by stress, overwork and contaminants.
Blue Yonder? Oxygen concentrates at water surfaces. Fish gasping for air near the surface reflect distress. Their respiratory systems are more efficient than those of mammals, rendering them more susceptible to toxic intake.
All the Frills? Feather-like gills have broad surface areas, facilitating oxygen and carbon dioxide exchanges in these organs. Protective gill covers in many fish and skin flaps in rays and sharks are no barrier to dissolved toxins.
Hit Man? Fish soar from oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, fountains, bowls and tanks. They smack into people and things. In a FAOJ case report, a boy dies from a crash landing rather than from Stingray Envenomation of the Foot.
“Fish Out of Water”? It uncomfortable for these water creatures to shoot for the skies. Air is not their environment. Rays need water for gill or spiracle oxygen intake. Lungfish have lungs and gills. They burrow during droughts.
Higher Ground? Air sacs aid bird flight. Fish do not have these air-filled lung extensions. The glide path of bony Exocoetidae, or flying fish, extends for hundreds of feet. This gave rise to their in flight group name of “glide”.
Master Stroke? Flying fish have large pectoral fins. Some species have enlarged pelvic fins, disconnected from their vertebral column. Comparable bird forelimbs are wings. Their pectoral girdles brace against the spine.
Range of Motion? Critical to flight, additional information by Lucas, K. N. et al. in Bending rules about animal propulsion Nat. Commun. 5:3293 doi: 10.1038/ncomms4293 (2014), was published by Nature Communications.
Tail Wind? Avian tails serve many functions. Like bird tails, the caudal or tail fin is connected to the spine and boosts flying fish propulsion, lift and maneuverability. Compared to feathered bird tails, fins are relatively heavy.
Working Order? Fish and fowl share unidirectional breathing. Mammals breathe in and out through lungs. Fish and fowl deliver a continuous flow of concentrated oxygen into their blood systems to fuel fight and flight.
Flying Shows? Stingrays flying out of water are amazing spectacles. They are sleek, powerful and cunning. It should come as no surprise that vehicles, engines and controversial surveillance trackers perpetuate the stingray brand.
Fine and Dandy? A fish ladder helps fish get over and past dams as they migrate upstream from saltwater to freshwater to reproduce. These stairways next dam structures invite fish, like salmon, to take step-by-step leaps.
Master Class? Wing flapping provides lift for birds and bats. An abstract cited by the NCBI explains Muscle Function in Avian Flight: Achieving Power and Control. Flight upstroke, speed and hovering are strenuous.
Sky High? Hollow bones add strength, distance and height to bird flight. Rigid vertebral columns, streamlined bodies and wing-shaped fins help fish improve their aim and time airborne. Fish bones are not hollow.
How Flying Fish Motivate Children
Double Take? Fish are intelligent. They perceive their environment with strong senses. The star of this story is purposefully reactive, appropriately responsive and consciously aware of his positive and negative results.
Happy Daze? Goals have physical and functional limitations. They must be realistic and within the boundaries of safe and acceptable behavior. Little Ray did not push limits by trying to reach outer space, where few have ventured.
Long View? Fish see equally well in air and water. Vision gives direction and coordinates behaviors of fish swimming or flying as groups. Applied focus breaks down tasks for step-by-step advancement within time or space.
Go with the Flow? Air travels need not be self-powered. Little Ray may catch an updraft or wind stream. The albatross may hold records for energy-saving glides around the world, without constant wing flapping or rest stops.
Creative Class? Human air travel history was inspired by birds. Observing nature brings new and improved products to everyday living. Life-changing actions come with positivity of purpose, rehearsal and feedback, not wings.
Concrete Dreams? The best fliers are warm-blooded. Cold-blooded Ray gets warm-blooded help from above and encouragement from shore. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department discusses Warm and Cold-Blooded Animals.
Reach New Heights
Manual Override? Squids create water jets to rocket. Mammals, reptiles and amphibians use skin flaps. Phys.org news reports Spiders go Ballooning on Electric Fields and may crash into plane windshields during their journeys.
Contributors? Winds lift animals. LOC archives Raining Frog Mysteries. Slowing winds may drop victims back into the water. Unlucky ones flop onto land. People may return these hapless organisms to their aquatic habitat.
Idea Lab? People are smart about watching others and working together. Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution argued survival comes with adapting to the environment. A strong will to live gets stingrays flying.
Game Face? Stingrays are free of emotional baggage. They are clever at evading and outsmarting other creatures. A visiting stingray vision in a dream signifies stale effort can gave way to new freedom and firm resolve.
Flight to Remember? The following video communicates the way to beat all odds:“The world helps those who try and try, to fly and fly.” The words are not from the book. Illustrations and ideas are from the story. (34 seconds)