A young stingray takes flight as his mother watches in The Amazing Flight of Little Ray book displayed at 50% of viewport width.
February 2020 by Terry Verduin


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 flying fish motivate children to embrace the unknown and reach new heights, like stingrays flying with birds.

Flight Observations?

Sand Castles? A Harris Poll showed 36% of Americans believe in UFOs. Rays do somersaults, flips, rolls, spins, squiggles, twists and turns. While governments look for UFOs, rays lend fresh perspectives to flight goals.

Sheer Luck? Air has less drag than water. Rays take flight to find food or evade predators. Noise, temperature, chemistry, muddiness, filth or stench also drive escape. They leap for fun, to express themselves or to show off.

“Fish Out of Water”? When water-dwelling creatures shoot for the skies, they leave their environment. Rays need water for gill or spiracle oxygen intake. Lungfish have lungs and gills, so they can burrow during droughts.

Shore Leave? Fish trajectories are range-bound. Fragile gills collapse out of water. The Amazing Flight of Little Ray meets with disruptive resistance. The experience is fittingly awkward, discomforting, exhausting and unsettling.

Cut Above? Swimming and air-propulsion efforts require oxygen delivery. Speed delivers a greater amount of oxygen with each breath. However, the breathing of all animals is challenged by stress, overwork and contaminants.

Sudden Flights? Before takeoff, stingrays and sharks may vomit. Stress may send them into the air element. Splashes knock off leeches, lice, parasites and worms, offering alternatives to unavailable drugs in the wild.

Stingrays Flying?

Flying Shows? Stingrays flying over water make 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.

Electro-Receptor Organs? Stingrays have acute ampullae of Lorenzini receptor cells and canals connecting to their skin. These sensitive body parts guide travel and detect obstacles or meals along the way.

Culture Club? Rays have broad pectoral fins. Most fish use these fins for steering. Rays move unlike most fish. They swim with wavy motions or flap these fins like bird wings. These movements also serve people and machines.

Round Trip? Fin movements do not propel airborne rays. 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 in water.

Master High Divers? Human divers from high boards or platforms reach high speeds before landing. They face a serious risk of impact injury, so they hit the water feet first. Stingrays make similar moves through the air.

Soft Landings?

Hit Man? Most fish can soar from oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, fountains, bowls and tanks. They lack aerial control to truly fly. FAOJ reports a boy's rare death from a ray's crash landing in Stingray Envenomation of the Foot.

Organic Matter? Stingrays have cartilage, not bone. This flexible material helps soften falls. It equips the star of this story to make his downturns temporary. This Fishy Fish catches lucky breaks to fall with great style.

Curves? Cartilage is not as dense as bony skeletons. Its flexibility and lighter weight assist stingray air travel. Cartilage also helps to maintain water buoyancy and facilitate the elastic movements required for swimming.

Lubricant? Fish liver oil is lighter than water. In sharks and rays, this substance provides buoyancy. Rays and bottom-dwelling sharks have flat, flexible bodies and broad fins to glide through air or water.

Other Air-Flying Fish?

Master Stroke? Flying fish have large pectoral fins, disconnected from the vertebrae. Muscles support their balancing, braking and leaping. Comparable bird forelimbs are wings, but their pectoral girdles brace against their spines.

Whoa? Spines on fins are distinct from the spine, or vertebrae. The sharp structures present on many fishes' dorsal, pectoral, anal and pelvic fins give protection. Spines on sturgeon caudal fins harshen tail lashings.

Flight Caps? Most fish can jump from an uncovered tank. “Combat Aquarium Patrol” is eliminated by putting them under covers, lids or hoods. This also reduces evaporation and risks from contaminants, kids and pets.

Long View? Fish see equally well in air or water. Vision directs and coordinates behaviors while swimming or flying solo or in groups. Applied focus breaks down tasks for step-by-step advancement within time or space.

The Slow Lane? Greenland Sharks, Puffer Fish and Sea Horses are poor swimmers. Like flightless birds, they hang low and hold their ground. Body shape does not enable them to pick up enough speed to take to the air.

Wavy Surface? Some fish pilot their routes by star and moonlight. They cannot get as close to celestial bodies as birds. Orbs cast by water-surface reflections and wave movements may interfere with fish star-gazing.

Flying Fowl?

Celestial Compass? Birds usually migrate at night. They cover long distances at heights ranging from 2,000-to-5,000 feet (600-to-1,500 meters). Stars offer bearings. Fish leaps rarely exceed 10 feet (3 meters).

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. Aerial upstroke, speed and hovering are strenuous.

Working Order? Fish and fowl share unidirectional respiration. Mammals breathe in and out through lungs. To fuel fight and flight, fish and fowl deliver a continuous flow of concentrated oxygen into their blood systems.

Higher Ground? Air sacs aid bird flight. Fish do not have these air-filled lung extensions. Still, the glide path of bony Exocoetidae, or flying fish, extends hundreds of feet. This gave them their in-flight group name, “glide”.

Tail Wind? Avian tails serve many functions. Like bird tails, the caudal or tail fin is connected to the spine. It boosts flying fish propulsion, lift and maneuverability. Compared to feathered bird tails, these fins are heavy.

Sky High? Hollow bones add control, strength, distance and altitude to avian travel. Aim troubles fish, not fowl. Fish bones are solid. Rigid vertebral columns, streamlined bodies and wing-shaped fins help fish go airborne.

Sky High?

Under the Sun? Sun aids navigation. Bats and fish have a strong guidance sense for electric fields on land or in water. Some fish produce electricity. Others feel it. Birds orient with magnetic fields or follow stars.

Celestial Beings? One Pisces zodiac sign means fish. Nine constellations are named after birds. The Old Farmer's Almanac reports some birds reach altitudes of 21,000 feet (6,400 meters). They can see their namesakes.

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.

Fine and Dandy? A fish ladder helps fish get over and past dams during migrations between saltwater and freshwater to reproduce. These stairways beside dam structures aid step-by-step jumping leaps for fish, like salmon.

Blue Sky Accountability Ladder? As an example of climbing to new levels, Blue Sky Formations Limited introduces nine-year-old Vincent. He acknowledges reality, accepts responsibility and moves up with performance.

Game Face? Stingrays carry little emotional baggage. They cleverly evade and outsmart other creatures. A visiting stingray vision in a dream signifies stale effort giving way to new freedom with firm resolve.

Reach New Heights?

Idea Lab? Animals 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 denizens of the deep flying.

Land or Sea? Human ancestors saw fish jumping and birds flying. Artifacts suggest early human migrations were made by walking across ice and land bridges. Primitive boats later expanded explorations over frightening waters.

Flying Serpents? The Biblical flying snake in the Book of Isaiah is grounded in fact. Mildly venomous flying snakes glide through air. Snakes also rise briefly off the ground while striking prey. Snake-like eels leap from water.

Aquaphobia? Fear of water remains common in modern times. Negative experiences or reports about getting in over one's head, shipwrecks, storms at sea or floods on land continue to distance some folks from enlightening tides.

Cast Away Fears? Science largely has debunked open-water monsters, myths and superstitions. There still remains much to learn about this under-explored environment. Pioneering individuals continue to raise awareness.

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.

Flight Plan?

Wanderlust? Little Ray plans to fly like a bird. Using wing-like fins, he repeatedly hurls himself from water to air. Determination, practice and outside bring him confidence to overcome countless fears and false starts.

Kick Back? Fish have feelings. Little Ray knows his Mama is worried. He hears strong beach-goer reactions. External factors enhance motivation and spark alertness. Accountability and monitoring spur progress.

Happy Daze? Goals have physical and functional limitations. They must be realistic and within the boundaries of safe, acceptable behavior. Little Ray does not push limits by trying to make a rare venture into outer space.

Block Chain? Sharks cannot go backwards. It kills them. Most rays move elegantly. Electric rays are slow, sluggish, floppy exceptions. Unlike people, fish may not train with a goal to compete. They work for survival.

Local Custom? Fish are maneuverable. A small change in direction can provide freedom from a trap or uncomfortable situation, making journeys worthwhile. Little Ray thinks about his actions before choosing his battles.

Exploding Fish? Deep sea fish die with changes in pressure and temperature during rapid ascent to water and air surfaces. High water pressure in deep waters keeps their inside organs from popping out and distorting their bodies.

How Flying Fish Motivate Children:

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.

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. Crashes into plane windshields happen during these journeys.

Contributors? Winds lift animals. LOC archives Raining Frog Mysteries. Slowing winds may drop aquatic creatures back into water. Unlucky ones may hit land. People may return these hapless organisms to their habitat.

Double Take? Fish are intelligent. They perceive their environment with strong senses. Little Ray remains purposefully reactive, appropriately responsive and consciously aware of his positive and negative results.

Depth of Focus? Little Ray stays calm as he navigates the complicated emotional turn in his flight. He comes out a winner against the superior flying skill of a seagull adversary, blocking the direct path to his goals.

Playing it Cool? Little Ray takes time to reflect, calm down and get his bearings before reacting on raw emotions. While he may be adventurous and creative, he also shows restraint when his big ideas come under attack.

Flight to Remember? The following video communicates how to beat all odds. Transcript: The world helps those who try and try, to fly and fly. Illustrations and ideas are from the story, but the words are not. (34 seconds)