Spotted Eagle Rays are one of the coolest animals that you can encounter when scuba diving and snorkeling in the Key Largo. These majestic creatures are easy to identify due to their unique pattern of white spots on their backs. Spotted eagle rays have their own pattern of spots that can be used to identify individual rays, similar to how each person has their own unique fingerprint. Scuba divers and snorkelers might be surprised by the large size of eagle rays, they can get up to 11 feet wide!
Spotted eagle rays have hardened plate-like teeth that they use to eat their food. Their unique teeth allow them to grind mollusk shells and like clams, oysters, and shrimp. Scuba divers and snorkelers in Key Largo might notice that eagle rays have flat, elongated snouts; they use these snouts to dig in the sand to search for prey.
An eagle ray attributes its name to the elegant way it “soars” through the water. If you are on a boat in the Florida Keys, you might be lucky enough to see a spotted eagle ray jump out of the water. Scientists are still not sure as to why they do this, some think it could be to get rid of any parasites on their bodies.
Eagle rays give live birth to young that are called “pups”. Unlike humans, eagle rays are ovoviviparous which means that the egg is hatched inside the female. After the egg is hatched inside the mother, the pup gets its nutrients from a yoke sac until the female gives birth. A single mother eagle ray can give birth to 1-4 pups at a time. Due to having a low reproduction rate and the harmful effects of overfishing, the eagle ray population is at a decline.
Spotted eagle rays have a spine on the end of their tail that contains a toxin. However, scuba divers and snorkelers do not need to be afraid of these gentle creatures because they are not aggressive as long as they are not provoked.
When your snorkeling or scuba diving in the Florida Keys there is a good chance you will spotted eagle rays in groups. So keep an eye out on your next dive or snorkel for these beautiful creatures!