The Sting Ray, Dasyatis centrura, hides at the bottom of seas, bays or rivers, its flattened disk-shaped body concealed by sand or silt and by its camouflaging coloration.
When stepped on by some unwary person, the sting ray quickly swings its long, flexible tail up and around so that it drives into the leg of the unfortunate person a spine that is toothed like a saw. This spine is located on the top surface of its tail, halfway between the base and tip. The excruciating pain that almost invariably follows such an injury is caused by some type of poison that the spine introduces into the wound. Pain, swelling, dizziness, and nausea may be so intense that hospitalization is necessary. In a few instances death is said to have resulted.
There are several dozen different species of sting rays, and they are found in all warm seas and in a number of tropical rivers. They range in size from a giant Australian form, that attains weights of about 750 pounds, to small fresh-water ones that are the size of a pancake.
The Sting ray, Dasyatis centrura, which is the one most commonly seen on the northeastern coast of the United States, reaches a length of twelve feet, although specimens over six feet long are rare. So far as known, all sting rays have living young.