While freediving along the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, underwater and wildlife photographer Alex Kydd happened upon a small and short-lived yet incredible-looking gathering of cownose rays, “a brown, kite-shaped ray with a long, whip-like tail.” From Kydd:
The rays were spiralling up and down the water column from the surface to 20 metres for approximately 20 minutes until they were not seen again. There have been few reports of cownose rays in the Ningaloo Reef region and over the last four years, this was my first encounter and it was by pure chance. The exact species of ray is speculative. After consulting with multiple ray experts, there still remains a lack of species information in the genus Rhinoptera.
Monterey Bay Aquarium explains that the animal’s “two lobes in front of its high-domed head… create a cow-nose likeness that gives this ray its name.”
The cownose ray is known for its long migration in large schools. It’s a strong swimmer, able to cover long distances. In the Atlantic Ocean, its migration is northward in the late spring and southward in the late fall. The population in the Gulf of Mexico migrates in schools of as many as 10,000 rays, clockwise from western Florida to the Yucatan in Mexico.
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