This illustration from The Amazing Flight of Little Ray shows the pancake form of a stingray displayed at 50% of viewport width.
November 2018 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

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.

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 pancakes and waffles, rays and sharks are combinations of the same components, substances and elements. Sharks may not make or get smiles, but this can be changed.


Connect the Jaws: Eating waffles should connect folks with sharks. Together, we can bust negative myths, spread good information and lend support to solid literary and ecological information about these amazing fish.


National Pancake Day, a Christian tradition, also serves up pancakes. This roving holiday is celebrated 47 days before Easter Sunday. The feast also has other names: Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras.


Pancake Breakfasts also are held at Canadian summer festivals. Volunteers cook and serve pancakes for these public fund raisers. The United States also uses these charitable events to raise funds for non-profit organizations.


Fine Form? The pancake form offers special abilities. Fascinating facts and fun of pancakes and pancake stingrays are captivating for children. Little Ray works to put smiles on faces. Everyone should applaud 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.


Organic Forms? 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.


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


New Discovery? A research team led by NOAA marine biologists described a unique kitefin shark specimen found in the Gulf of Mexico. This wee American Pocket Shark measured 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) in length.


Strange Feature? NOAA researcher declared it was a 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? The small pockets produce luminous fluid to make these fish glow. The Pocket Shark may glow in the dark to lure prey, attract mates or avoid predators. Finds of this deep-water species are exceptionally rare.


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


In Full Bloom? The family is diverse. Over 10,000 pictures are on The Elasmodiver Shark and Ray Field Guide. It informs interested parties about evolution, biology, encounters and the critical needs for conservation.


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

Group of Stingrays

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


Going Places? 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.


Golden Hour? Stingrays are nocturnal hunters, but these opportunistic feeders eat whenever food is available. In interactive lagoons they 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 of 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 and ship fabrics.


Long Story? Ray touch tanks are torture chambers. These 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.


Art of the Huddle? Bans are removing whales and porpoises from tanks. Laws exist against holding and breeding these marine mammals. Efforts are needed to force the release of fish into sanctuaries with rehabilitation.

Part of the Shark Family

Passionate? Hooked or netted rays put up fights. 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? 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 are important to 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.


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. Migration patterns and habits are disturbed.


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 of visiting throngs confuse and depress these fish.