The Majestic Butterfly Ray

The California Butterfly Ray (Gymnura marmorata) is a member of the Gymnuridae family which translates to naked tail. This species has a range of southern California down to the tip of Gulf of California. They have been found as far south as northern Peru but it is debated whether it is a subspecies that reside in Peru. Butterfly rays are easily identified once they are spotted but their mastery at camouflage makes it difficult to spot them. They have a short snout, wide wing span, short tail and spotted patterns, making them stand out from other rays. Females can reach wing span of 4ft while males can only reach 2ft.

The butterfly ray is found in waters no deeper than 130ft and will often go to the shallows to feed and mate. Their diet consists of crabs, shrimps and bony fishes. Females utilize the ovoviviparious method of reproduction, where the young initially feed on yolk inside the mother, similar to egg laying sharks, and then the mother gives live birth.  The young rays are left to fend for themselves after birth but all members of this species have a venomous barb on their tail that can be used against predators.