The Amazing Flight of Little Ray
November 2017 by V. R. Duin

PANCAKE SHARK

Little Ray heard, “What's that, Mommy?”
“It's a pancake shark, my little Tommy.”
“ If it's a shark, why can't it get away?”
“ Maybe it can't figure out the way.”
(“The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”)

Little Ray's inspirational books for children link the pancake shark to its fearsome shark family relatives.

Pancake Shark or Flat Shark are good names for stingrays, because they make the species sound more exciting to people. The name links stingrays to the shark family to which they belong. Stingrays and sharks come together in “Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up”, so children can compare these members of the shark family.

All of Little Ray's inspirational books for children are biologically sound. Children and adults can learn about stingrays and sharks in realistic action. As you can see in the above illustration from “The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”, a stingray is flat, like a pancake. When viewed from the underside, Little Ray's illustrations correctly show a pancake shark wearing a “smile”, which should have friends smiling, too. Little Ray wants everyone to appreciate the beauty of life under water and emerging into the air.

“The Amazing Flight of Little Ray” is a factually correct and fantastically fun introduction to the pancake shark. Little Ray also has videos that show him gracefully swimming, gliding and leaping from the water. We hope everyone will dive into all of Little Ray's adventurous, factual and inspirational books for children. Two of his books are about the stingray and the connections of this amazing fish to the shark family. The more children learn about stingrays and sharks, the greater connection they will form with these animals and their watery world. Stingrays and sharks are not totally restricted to salt water environments.

Swim with Mama Ray while she watches Little Ray prepare to take flight like a bird. Help Little Ray and shark get a leaking, sinking boating family's disabled craft to shore. The unique form of the pancake shark gives these fish special abilities. When these fish take to the air, they look a lot like birds. Adventures with stingrays and sharks provide thrilling fun for anyone reading about them, watching them from land or sea and joining them in water activities. These fish are not dangerous unless grabbed or stepped upon.

Pancake sharks are docile enough that people can interact with them and feed them in water park settings located throughout the world. Within the United States and in the Caribbean, there are popular locations for interaction with pancake sharks. In these places, people discover that a stingray doesn't have to be called “pancake shark” to be exciting, or interesting. Stingrays are among the few fish with eyes on the top of their heads. Barreleyes, also known as spook fish, have tubular eyes that are directed overhead. These fish can look upwards at human visitors as well as in hunting for prey.

Stingray attractions typically reference the name of these featured animals as stingrays, not “pancake sharks”. Some people may not associate the name “pancake shark” with these amazing fish. The association of stingrays with the shark family might discourage visitors to such places. At some attractions throughout the world, visitors are able to swim with resident rays from which the barbs are humanely removed or trimmed by veterinarians specialized in this process. Trimming is not painful to the stingray. Done correctly, it is similar to nail trimming in humans and other animals. There should be no bleeding. However, some exotic animal keepers advise against this process, because the barbs grow back about every three months.

A friendly pancake shark will brush against visitors to its environment, exploring those who are watching it. In Florida, U.S.A., SeaWorld at Orlando, the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo and the Florida Aquarium, also in Tampa, are among attractions with stingray touch pools or interactive lagoons. Some of these rays are conditioned to regular barb trimmings. Because stingrays at tourist locations receive regular feedings, they behave more like tame animals in captivity. Peaceful encounters, such as those in park settings, may make stingrays seem boring in comparison to their more fearsome shark family cousins. Stingrays lose much of the character of wild animals in nature. Children or adults safely can feed stingrays in tanks or at water attractions by hand.

This is not say that a pancake shark never will act aggressively or never can be provoked to make an attack. Even in captivity, some stingrays accept handling, while others do not. Rays should never be pursued. To bring good ending to “The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”, Little Ray is provoked to harmlessly sting a bird. When escape is not possible, stingrays will react in self-defense with painful and possibly deadly stinging. Unlike with their shark relatives, it is a good idea to stay near stingrays' heads when interacting with these fish. The stinging barb is located at the base or midpoint of the tail area.

As “stingrays”, these shark family members also are appropriately named. Readers of Little Ray's inspirational books for children also will not question why a group of stingrays is called a “fever”. They'll know the many reasons these pancake sharks are “hot, hot, hot!” They can cause a fever with their sting and a thrill with their flight. Inexperienced ray keepers should not handle stingrays for barb trimming or touch, unless or until they are accustomed to and willing to submit to the process. Rays have a hard protective skin surface that can tolerate touching better than slime or scale protected fish. They are hardy, but they also have a fight instinct. When flight is not possible, stingrays will sting.

Rather than scuffle with an angry or frightened pancake shark, visitors to the ocean world of these shark family members should learn how to do the stingray shuffle. Little Ray's Stingray Shuffle dance video is waiting to prevent missteps. Join in the movements on this website and make new ocean friends while you're having fun. This shuffling dance movement will scare away stingrays that are half-buried in the sand. They will flee rather than get stepped upon, which could result in an unfriendly encounter. After joining Little Ray and friends in the dance of the Stingray Shuffle, be sure to read the other fun facts about ocean life, pancake sharks and other interesting members of Little Ray's shark family.

The regularly updated articles throughout this website add interesting details and insights about these shark family members to discuss with children while reading Little Ray's inspirational books for children.

Pancake Shark Comments

  • Shark Family admin says:

    The pancake shark and other members of the shark family have an advocate in Shark Advocates International, which is dedicated to preserving these vulnerable fishes.

  • pancake shark admin says:

    According to Treehugger.com, some species of flat or pancake shark, are so endangered, it is hard to find pictures of them.

    • inspirational book for childrenadmin says:

      Little Ray's inspirational books for children will have kids reading about his shark family, over and over.