A young stingray takes flight as his mother watches in The Amazing Flight of Little Ray book displayed at 50% of viewport width.
February 2021 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.

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

Flight Range

Shore Leave? Flight trajectories are range-bound. Fragile gills collapse out of water. Fish gills are designed to work in water. They dry out while in the air, which prevents oxygen exchanges. Return to water restores breathing.

“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.

Wet World? A human under water can sense the discomfort of a fish in air. The Amazing Flight of Little Ray meets with disruptive resistance. The experience is fittingly awkward, discomforting, exhausting and unsettling.

Flight Plan

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

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

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.

Stingrays Flying

Game Face? Stingrays carry little emotional baggage. They cleverly evade and outsmart other creatures. Flying stingrays in dreams mean that stale effort is giving way to new freedoms with firm resolve.

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.

Wing-Like Fins

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. Such movements also serve people and machines.

Star Power? Fin shape determines speed and style of water locomotion. Wing-like pectoral fins facilitate the ray's swimming and soaring style. Stingrays are not powered by the tail fin of their shark cousins.

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

Hit Pause

Master High Divers? Human divers from high boards or platforms reach high speeds before landing. They face a serious risk of impact injury. Stingrays make similar moves through the air. They cannot land feet first.

Sudden Flights? Before takeoff, stingrays and sharks may vomit. Stress may send them into the air. Return-to-water splashes knock off leeches, lice, parasites and worms; alternatives to unavailable drugs in the wild.

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

Soft Landings

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.

Sky High? Hollow bones add control, strength, distance and altitude to avian travel. Fish bones and cartilage skeletons are solid. Rigid vertebrae, streamlined bodies and wing-shaped fins help fish go airborne. Aim is a problem.

Crash Landings

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

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

Solo Acts? Because stingrays and sharks lack rib cages, beach landings are likely to result in crushed internal organs. Without these strong, protective structures for vital organs, their own weight snuffs out their lives.

Poor Fliers

The Slow Lane? Greenland Sharks live in cold waters. Slow metabolisms make them slow swimmers. Like flightless birds, they hang low and hold their ground. They cannot pick up enough speed to take to the air.

Non-swimmers? Seahorses, puffer fish, frogfish, and batfish do little swimming. The batfish is more likely to use its pectoral fins to walk across the ocean floor than to swim. Poor swimmers are unlikely fliers.

Master Stroke? The pectoral fins of angel sharks attach to the body, behind the gills, as do those on most fish. Hammerheads swim on their sides. Most sharks, electric rays and bony fish move with caudal fins, or tail fins.

Fast or Slow

Working Order? Fish and fowl share unidirectional respiration. Mammals breathe in and out with lungs. Fish in water and fowl in air 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 the in-flight group name, “glide”.

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.

The Real Deal

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

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.

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 pollution.

Air-Flying Tricks

Boosters? Generally, a larger tail area gives greater thrust. Fast fish have longer lobes on their caudal fins. The side-to-side or up-and-down pectoral fin movements typically enhance swimming speed and power.

Round Trip? Fin movements do not propel airborne rays. They push off, reach the height of momentum, then start falling due to the pull of gravity. Fish musculature is designed for undulating thrust in water.

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 interfere with star-gazing fish.

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. Aerial upstroke, speed and hovering are strenuous. Bats and many birds can swim. Unable to breathe, they hold their breath while under the water.

Flightless Birds? Wings do not guarantee flight. Ostriches and penguins are well-known birds that have lost the ability to fly. These birds have not lost their wings. They use them for purposes other than to fly.

Flights of Fancy

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. The opah is known to be a warm-blooded fish, but it is not known for flying.

Hot, Hot, Cold

Ectotherm? This is the scientific term for a cold-blooded animal. The regulation of body temperature by these animals depends upon outside factors such as sunlight or water temperature. Food is not required to generate heat.

Downside? Ectotherms slow down to conserve energy and improve survival chances. They go into torpor when their temperature drops due to environmental changes. Basking in the sun warms them up.

Endotherm? These animals use food to generate heat that internally maintains their body temperatures. This often requires a lot of food. Birds and mammals, including people, are Endothermic.

How Flying Fish Motivate Children

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 expanded explorations over frightening waters.

Wanderlust? Little Ray plans to fly like a bird. Using wing-like fins, he repeatedly hurls himself into the air. Determination, hard work and outside support give him confidence to overcome strong fears and false starts.

Making Dreams Come True? Little Ray focuses. He works toward achievement with ongoing practice. As he takes necessary risks, he receives loving support from his Mama and wise suggestions from beach-goers.

Sky High

Genius? Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” It is unlikely he saw a mudskipper.

Tree-Climbing Fish? Mudskippers largely live out of water. Not only can they walk on land, but this slender fish is able to climb up trees and rocks while hunting for live food or for perfect spots to sunbathe.

Waterfalls? Goby fish can climb 300-foot waterfalls. Koi, salmon and carp also are known to forge waterfalls. Should they fall over high falls, fish can withstand the water force and fall without injury.

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 will to live sends denizens of the deep airborne.

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

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

Modern Arrangement

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 battles.

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 flaps 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. Plane windshields occur during their ballooning.


Flying Serpents? The Biblical flying snake in the Book of Isaiah is based on fact. Mildly venomous flying snakes glide through air. Snakes rise from 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 distance some folks from enlightening tides.

Cast Away Fears? Science 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.

On a Wing and a Prayer

Sun Shower? It is possible for rain to fall without clouds. This atmospheric phenomenon is called a “sun shower”. Winds from a distant rain storm can blow rain into a cloudless area where the sun is shining.

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 victims to their habitat.

Legend? Annual “Fish Rain” in Yoro, Honduras is attributed to mid-1800 pleas by Missionary Manuel de Jesús Subirana to end hunger. Hundreds of small silver fish fall onto the streets during strong storms.

Break Away

Free-Style? Baby jellyfish attach to rocks and corals on the ocean floor, similar to most adult sea anemones or coral. These rarely-mobile animals are not fish. Little Ray and his friends quickly escape bad situations.

Playing It Cool? In the video below, Little Ray reflects, calms down and gets his bearings before reacting on raw emotions. He may be adventurous and creative, but he shows restraint when his ideas come under attack.

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

Little Ray of Flight

Creative Class? Human air travel 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.

Drift? Little Ray faces difficult and dangerous odds. However, he does not rely on divine help or sheer luck. He inventories his skills and equipment, then he confidently organizes the final leg of his flight.

Flight to Remember? The following video shows 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; the text is not. (34 seconds)