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Fish #37 Common Stingray Dasyatis pastinaca ~ Bryony Dickins
Acrylic on paper 21 x 30 cm
The Common Stingray (Dasyatis pastinaca) is found in the north-east of
the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. It lives in
coastal waters preying on crustaceans, molluscs and small bottom
dwelling fish. It is more active at night, often burying itself in
sediment during the day. They are caught as a by-catch by trawlers,
but although their livers are used for liver oil, and the livers can
be considered a delicacy, their flesh is of limited value.
They typically measure about 45cm across with a whip-like tail 35cm long, although significantly larger specimens have been recorded. The serrated stinging spine is part way along the length of the tail which has a gland of venom. The spine is shed and replaced periodically. Females bear 4-9 young twice per year. The embryos feed on the yolk and as they develop their mother provides histotroph ('uterine milk'). The 'pups' measure about 8cm across when they are born and can live into their twenties.
I chose one of the many species of stingray because we were married on the 3rd September 2006 and I later found out that Steve Irwin had been killed the following day by a stingray. The transition from delight to tragedy is always a reminder that nature can confound us however much we believe we understand it.
The stingray plays and preys
in the sand fanned wonderland
Ride the tide to glide,
wander yonder and ponder
Explore the seaweed to feed
and sweep along in the deep
Swim and skim
into the starless darkness.
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