The Yellow Stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis) is a small stingray with a wingspan of up to only 14 inches. It is commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean from Trinidad to North Carolina and is non-threatening to human beings. However, these rays can inflict extremely painful injuries when threatened, and most that have been reported occurred when people accidentally stepped on the rays who slash and raise their tail spines when attempting to flee. Still, lethal injuries are very rare.
The yellow stingray is aplacental viviparity, meaning their embryos develop inside eggs that remain in the body of the mother until they ready to hatch. During their 5-6-month gestation period, the embryos are sustained first by yolk, then by uterine milk called histrotroph during the later part of their development. Females give birth no more than twice per year, with litters of one to seven pups.
This ray is not one of the 45 species of stingrays listed as threatened or endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their numbers are currently at healthy levels, so they are listed as “Least concern.”
We photographed this yellow stingray during a dive at Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Belize. Read more in our post, Scuba Diving, Placencia, Belize: Nurse Sharks and Oceanic Manta Rays.