Sting Ray (Dasyatis pastinaca)
Big rod-caught sting rays can weigh 18.14 Kg (40 lbs) or more. The average sting ray weighs around 6.80 Kg (15 lbs).
LC – Least Concern
As with all rays, the sting ray has a flattened body with broad pectoral fins which resemble wings, its rounded triangular body is brown-grey in colour on the back with a lighter shade of grey on the underbelly. Its eyes are particularly small – generally smaller than its respiratory openings which are found in the same area. It has rows of small, blunt teeth which essentially form flattened surfaces used to grind food.
The sting ray has a pointed snout and a tail which is probably the most characteristic aspect of the sting ray. The tail is typically considerably longer than its body, and is loaded with a serrated arrow-like spine – its sting – which also injects venom into anything inflicted. The body and tail are smooth, except for a number of dermal denticals present on the edge of the pectoral disk. It is not uncommon for older sting rays to acquire a row of bony bumps across the midline of its back.
Warning: Dodge that tail. As soon as you see you’ve managed to catch a sting ray, you should consider cutting your line and allow it to return to the sea. The sting is particularly dangerous and can penetrate past boots and clothing to slash into flesh, injecting venom in the process which can result in temporary paralysis. If you are stung, seek immediate medical attention.
However if you are resolute in taking a closer look, tread on the tail away from the sting. However you need to be extra cautious as some sting rays carry two stings!
The sting ray is most active during summer and autumn, primarily along the shores of southern Britain. The sting ray is hooked offshore by boat anglers, and can come close inshore, where it’s caught from beaches and piers. The sting ray’s preferred bait is believed to be ragworm or lugworm, but it also eats whole small fish or fish strips which are lying on or near the sea bed.
Due to its nasty sting, this is not a fish species which you should set out to catch.