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November 2018 by V. R. Duin

PANCAKE SHARK, PANCAKE STINGRAY

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)

Group of Stingrays in the Shark Family

Meet rays in the shark family in Little Ray & Shark Patch Things Up. The group of stingrays named pancake shark, flat shark and pancake stingray are part of the shark family.

The ITIS partnership of U.S., Canadian and Mexican organizations provides: Taxonomic Hierarchy and Nomenclature for sharks, stingrays and rays in the “Chondrichthyes” class and “Elasmobranchii” subclass.


The order of Myliobatiformes holds nine families. They include whip-tail stingrays, butterfly rays, six-gill stingrays, manta and devil rays, eagle rays, cow-nose rays, deep-water stingrays, river rays and round stingrays.


No stingray looks like a shark. Angel sharks resemble stingrays. Children might be surprised by the huge size of giant mantas, deep-water stingrays and whale sharks. Adult sharks also can be tiny.


The family is diverse. Over 10,000 pictures are on The Elasmodiver Shark and Ray Field Guide. It informs about evolution, biology, encounters and conservation.


Stingrays are flat. When viewed from the underside, Little Ray correctly wears a “smile”. This should get friends smiling. Smiles grace those who are helpful, successful, loving and learning.


Some stingrays are both round and flat, like pancakes. Round stingrays join eight other ray families among “Direct Children” of the Myliobatiformes. See “Urolophidae” in this section of the ITIS report.


Captive rays act tame. Visitors at water parks swim with them and hand feed them. Curious fish brush against guests without showing a wild side. That docile stingrays are shark relatives is astonishing.


Stingray parks are popular. Lessons from the ocean benefit life on land. Rays are among the few fish with eyes on the tops of their heads. These fish look up at people, imploring respect.


Stingrays are nocturnal hunters. These opportunistic feeders consume food whenever it is available. In interactive lagoons they remain alert to and receptive of visitors bearing food for daytime feedings.


Interactive lagoons rarely advertise the shark connection. For public safety, stinging spines are removed or trimmed. Trimming is not painful. The razor-sharp barbs grow back. Calming methods in Mama Ray may be used.


Some stingrays refuse handling. Cleaners of inside aquarium walls must take extra care with specimens kept together for breeding or display. Small pancake sharks make memorable stings with Stingray Venom.


Handlers know the suffering from a quick touch. Few victims want to repeat the experience. Contact with tough, sharp sharkskin denticles also causes injury. Electric rays have smooth, flabby skin without denticles.


Bead-like stingray skin is rough and slimy. Protective mucous coating wards off parasites and reduces swimming friction. It won't rub off with brief contact. The stinky slime can be hard to clean from shoes and clothes.


Hooked and netted rays put up a fight. Larger ones can break away with hook and line. Smaller ones deserve due respect. It is possible to remove the hook, without getting stung. Gently hold the head and keep the tail away.


Intentional harm to a fish is cruel. Fishermen targeting flashes of silver may pull up “big wings”. The disappointment or fright should not result in cold-blooded murder. Fish are important to the environment.


Most fish are cold-blooded. They are not dispassionate. Mako and Great White Sharks can raise body part temperatures to improve performance in cold water. According to Pizard's GURPS, Alopiid Sharks are warm-blooded.


It is better to visit than own these big eaters. They can be purchased from tropical fish stores, but they quickly outgrow home aquariums. Rays and sharks adapt poorly to captivity. Migration patterns and habits are disturbed.


Tank conditions are unnatural. The keen senses of sharks and rays make them extremely sensitive to poor water quality conditions. They can develop posture problems from the constant bending required to navigate small tanks.


Crowds disturb these sensitive captives. Shark family members rely upon water vibrations, sounds and scents for survival. Disorienting noise, smells and pounding vibrations of visiting throngs confuse and depress these fish.


Ray touch tanks are torture chambers. These shy fish are offered no escape from the siege of germ-ridden tourists. Denied sandy bottoms for escape and hiding, they are manhandled and injured for commercial exploit.


Bans are removing whales and porpoises from tanks. Canada has passed laws preventing holding and breeding of these marine mammals. Efforts everywhere should provide sanctuaries and rehabilitation for release of fish.


According to Treehugger.com, some species of flat sharks are so endangered, it is hard to find photographs of them. Shark Advocates International is dedicated to their preservation.


Bull Sharks, River Sharks and some ray species live in freshwater. Freshwaterstingrays.co.uk has interesting facts about them. Ingesting saltwater can be deadly for land animals.


Aquariums use processed feed. Stingrays prefer small, fresh, live catches: fish, snails, shrimps, crabs, worms, clams, etc. Bottom feeders stir up meals with their snouts and fins. They hunt. They ambush.


The pancake form offers special abilities. Fascinating facts about pancake stingrays are captivating for children. Little Ray works on his weaknesses. Everyone should applaud his passionate efforts.