So what do stingrays eat? There are at least 70 different kinds of stingrays, and they all have slightly different diets. One of the first things that separates the different varieties of stingrays is salt water and fresh water. Stingrays can be found in all kinds of bodies around the world, from lakes and rivers to oceans. However, they are most common along the coastline of various seas.
Sometimes stingrays even hide in the sand, only coming out to find a snack. A stingray’s color matches pretty well with the sea floor, so it’s able to hide very well among the sand and rocks. This is an enormous benefit when it comes to hiding out and waiting for food to float by.
Stingrays are carnivores, so the short answer to the question, “What do stingrays eat” is: meat. The stingray is closely related to the shark, so you can imagine what lunchtime looks like for the stingray. However, the stingray moves around a lot differently than the shark does. Stingrays move by pulsing their whole body like a wave, much differently than the way sharks swim through the water.
Just like sharks, stingrays also have electrical sensors around their mouths. These sensors are used to find food or potential food. They pick up on the electrical pulses given off by creatures that would make a good meal for the stingray. Once the creature senses that food is nearby, it pulses into action, grabbing its prey with its big mouth and using its giant jaws to crush the food. Stingrays usually eat any of a wide variety of mollusks, from clams and oysters, to mussels.
Although stingrays are carnivores and some types of their shark cousins are known to attack humans, stingrays don’t eat people. They don’t often attack humans, although world-renown “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin was actually killed by a stingray. In general, stingrays only attack in self-defense, generally leaving most of their attacks to their food. And, as clams and oysters don’t fight back, you can imagine how easy it is for stingrays to have the upper hand on their food.
The venom of a stingray is not usually fatal, unless it strikes someone directly in the heart. The venom causes muscles to contract suddenly and kills off tissues and cells. It’s primarily a defense mechanism, as stingrays do not need to sting clams and oysters in order to consume them.
Another important part of the question, “What do stingrays eat” is whether the variety you’re wondering about is a bottom feeder or a swimmer. Some varieties do both, although bottom feeders are the ones that can be most dangerous to people because they are very good at hiding in the sand at the bottom of the ocean. Bottom feeders eat only mollusks, while swimmers also tend to eat plankton. In fact, some swimmers eat plankton as their main source of food.
Some stingrays are so docile that they will eat food right out of your hand. This is a common tourist activity in the Caribbean.