Stingrays use their barb to hunt

Stingrays on Moorea: Safe when fed

Tahiti and its neighboring island of Moorea offer tourists everything they dream of on vacation. A fascinating landscape, palm forests, wonderful beaches and a sea full of great underwater landscapes with their fascinating inhabitants. The beaches are protected by the reefs surrounding the islands and a few special inhabitants of the underwater world are already waiting here in the shallow water. They are skilled hunters, perfectly camouflaged and heavily armed to protect against attackers: the stingrays. Many rays are primarily ground dwellers, where they are well camouflaged by their flat appearance. They also like to dig themselves into the sand so that only their eyes can look out. Most accidents, hundreds of which occur each year, happen when people step on them. For swimmers and divers, however, there is little danger, as the rays are closely related to the sharks. Like these, they have no bones, but have a skeleton made of cartilage, so they belong to the cartilaginous fish. Their pectoral fins are greatly enlarged and wing-like and their movements are more reminiscent of birds than fish. Stingrays have a bad reputation. But as long as they don't feel threatened, they are harmless. It becomes dangerous when a ray whips its tail like lightning and hits the stinger on the tail into the victim, so it's not an attack but a defense. The stinger is flat, pointed, barbed at the edges and can strike deep or long wounds . There are also poison glands in the tissue around the spines. A perfect weapon, because by pulling back the stinger, the barbs enlarge the wounds and continue to tear them open. The poison then also gets into the wound. A hit directly in the chest is very likely fatal. However, the rays near Moorea have long ceased to hunt naturally. They are fed by humans. As a tourist attraction, holidaymakers can then experience the stingrays up close. Since the animals know exactly that a treat is waiting for them, they do not hide in the sand. So there is no danger for the tourists to step on them. Where rays live, bathers should walk slowly, dragging their feet close to the ground, into deep water. The rays then disappear in time. These rays have become so used to the special treatment by the people that they no longer hunt but wait for the tourists. Here the big stingrays are just interesting pets.