This illustration from The Amazing Flight of Little Ray shows the pancake form of a stingray displayed at 50% of viewport width.
November 2019 by V. R. Duin

PANCAKE SHARK | FLAT 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)

Rays in the Shark Family

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

Sweet and Low? Stingrays are flat, like pancakes. When viewed from the underside, Little Ray correctly wears a “smile”. It should get friends smiling. Smiles reflect joy, success and love. They also may snag free breakfasts.


Fresh ideas? Pancakes, called hotcakes, griddle cakes or flapjacks, contain eggs, butter and milk, like waffles. Poor waffles of the food world go by one name, like sharks of the aquatic world. Texture and shape set them apart.


It All Adds Up? IHOP restaurants serve up pancakes on IHOP Free Pancake Day. Smiling customers may get some “freebies”. Donations support children health causes. Should waffles be served for the week of shark celebration?


Waffles for Sharks? What's not to love? Like pancake and waffle ingredients, rays and sharks similarly combine components, substances and elements. Sharks and stingrays do not always get smiles. This can change.


Connect the Jaws! Eating waffles should connect folks with sharks. Group gatherings can bust negative myths, spread good information and lend support to socially-responsible culinary, literary and ecological efforts.


Fuel for Thought? The public relations outreach of Waffles for Sharks could help everyone grow to appreciate these endangered fish. It also may raise reading rates, which are declining about as fast as shark populations.


National Pancake Day? This roving Christian tradition serves up pancakes 47 days before Easter Sunday. Like stingrays, the holiday feast has many names: Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras.


Pancake Breakfasts? At Canadian summer festivals, volunteers cook and serve pancakes as public fund raisers. These culinary treats raise funds in the U. S. to support military troops and diverse community causes.


Fine Form? The pancake form offers special abilities. Fascinating facts and fun of pancake stingrays captivate children. Little Ray works to put smiles on faces. Folks should hold pancake feasts to salute his passionate efforts.

Pancake Stingray

Flat Shark Club? The ITIS partnership of North American organizations offers: Taxonomic Hierarchy and Nomenclature for sharks, stingrays and rays in the “Chondrichthyes” class and “Elasmobranchii” subclass.


Stinging Sidekicks? Myliobatiformes consist of nine families: 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.


Strange? Manta rays and devil rays lack stingers. Although cow-nose rays have stingers, they swim near the surface, making them easy to spot. Six-gill stingray stingers are on their backs. Some river ray stingers are harmless.


Organic Forms? Some stingrays are round and flat, like pancakes. Round stingrays join eight other ray families as “Direct Children” of Myliobatiformes, classed as “Urolophidae” in the ITIS hierarchy.


Mirror Image? Angel sharks resemble stingrays. No stingrays look like sharks. The huge size of giant mantas, deep-water stingrays and whale sharks stands in surprising contrast to tiny adult shark species.


Chew Toy? A research team led by NOAA marine biologists described a unique kitefin shark specimen found in the Gulf of Mexico. This American Pocket Shark was only 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) long.


Weird Feature? NOAA researchers introduced this pocket shark in 2015. The name comes from pocket-like orifices located near the pectoral fins. The specimen was identified as a new species, leaving much for further study.


Light Pack? Luminous fluid produced in the pockets gets these wee fish glowing. Pocket Sharks cast light in the dark to lure prey, attract mates or avoid predators. Finding these deep-water specimens is exceptionally rare.


Solid State? Stingrays are not totally flat. They have many moving parts. Unlike some sharks, no ray could or would swallow a person or other large animal whole. However, they can chow down on prey with very hard shells.


In Full Bloom? The family is diverse. Thousands of pictures grace The Elasmodiver Shark and Ray Field Guide. It informs interested parties about evolution, biology, encounters and the urgent need for conservation.


Focus Group Culture? According to Treehugger.com, some flat sharks are so endangered, it is hard to find photographs of them. Shark Advocates International expands efforts to preserve these disappearing species.

Group of Stingrays

Acting Tame? Visitors at water parks swim with captive rays. They greet hand-feeders. These curious fish brush against guests without showing a wild side. That docile stingrays are shark relatives is astonishing.


Going Places? Popular stingray parks give lessons from the ocean to benefit life on land. Rays are among the few fish with eyes on the tops of their heads. They look up at people. This submission merits mutual respect.


Golden Hour? Largely nocturnal hunters, these opportunistic feeders eat whenever food is available. In interactive lagoons stingrays remain alert to and receptive of visitors bearing food for daytime feedings.


Small Wonder? For public safety, stinging spines are removed or trimmed. Trimming is not painful. Razor-sharp barbs grow back. Calming methods in Mama Ray are helpful to handlers and indicative of the shark connection.


Seeing Red? 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.


Hot Seat? 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.


Wear an Apron? Rough, slimy, bead-like stingray skin has a protective mucous coating to ward off parasites and reduce swimming friction. If it rubs off, the stinky slime can be hard to clean from shoe, clothing or ship fabrics.


Long Story? Ray touch tanks may be torture chambers. These unfortunate fish suffer germ-ridden tourist sieges. Denied sandy bottoms for escape or hiding, they can get mishandled or injured during commercial exploit.


Art of the Huddle? Bans set whales and porpoises free from tanks. Holding or breeding of these marine mammals is illegal. Next-level efforts should force release of vulnerable captive fish into rehabilitation sanctuaries.

Part of the Shark Family

Passionate? Hooked or netted rays put up fights. Larger ones can break away with hook and line. It is possible to remove the hook from captives without getting stung. Teamwork may be needed to hold the head and block the tail.


Intentional Harm? Fishermen targeting flashes of silver may pull up “big wings”. Disappointment or fright should not result in cruel, cold-blooded murder. These cold-blooded fish meaningfully serve the environment.


Turn up the Heat? Mako and Great White Sharks can raise body part temperatures to improve performance in cold water. According to Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea, Alopiid Sharks, or thresher sharks, are warm-blooded.


Natural Selection? 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.


Beach Day? 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.


Tank Condition Matters? The keen senses of sharks and rays make them extremely sensitive to poor water quality. They also develop posture problems from the constant bending required to navigate small areas.


Crowd Disturbance? Sensitive shark family members rely upon water vibrations, sounds and scents for survival. Disorienting noise, smells and pounding vibrations from tourist throngs confuse and depress these fish.


Buyer's Remorse? Visit rather than own these big eaters. Purchased from tropical fish stores, they quickly outgrow home aquariums. Rays and sharks adapt poorly to captivity. Their migration patterns and habits are disturbed.