Australian Fish, Australian Wildlife, Wildlife
Comments 10

Smooth Stingray – Giants of Hamelin Bay

Smooth stingray Dasyatis brevicaudata Hamelin Bay Western Australia

Western Australia’s South West region is one of the country’s most beautiful destinations. It’s not only home of the renown wine-region of Margaret River, it also counts numerous natural wonders within the confines of Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park and the Ngari Capes Marine Park. The latter has only been established in 2012, and this relatively new addition to WA’s protected marine environments harbours many intertidal and subtidal reef habitats with an array of marine plants and animals. In winter this region is the scene of the annual migration of Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis), while Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are regular visitors in November. Although our visit didn’t coincide with this spectacle, we had a thrilling encounter with another giant of Ngari: the Smooth stingray (Dasyatis brevicaudata)- the biggest ray on earth!

Nestled along a rugged coastline shaped by big swells and strong winds, Hamelin Bay is a quiet and protected pocket out of which timber from the nearby Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) forests was exported to India, England and South Africa in the 19th century. The logging days and the jetty are long gone; nowadays tourists enjoy the calm blue waters for a swim and some good salmon fishing. When fishermen in the 1950’s cleaned their catch and discarded the guts in the water, stingrays started coming in close to shore to scrounge for a meal. This behavior has continued with some rays almost beaching themselves when they detect movements in the water with their ampullae, the electrical sensors located around their mouth. And this is why they seek you out when wading through the shoreline – can you imagine the excitement when one of those gentle giants swims over your feet?

Smooth Stingray Dasyatis brevicaudata Hamelin Bay Western Australia

10 Comments

  1. My goodness, I don’t know how I will react when something that big suddenly appears out of the blue while I’m splashing around! It must be a thrilling experience!

    • The water is actually so clear you can see those rays patrolling the shallows; once you step in they start interacting – and swim away again as soon as they find out there’s nothing to feast on. They’re big and somehow got a bad reputation but
      when unprovoked they’re harmless and almost behave like little puppies!

  2. Fantastic! I enjoyed the stingray photo, and also knowing how they came to get so close. Beautiful creature.

      • Hi, no, I’m much more of an observer and just let the animals do their thing. Very cool to see so many rays in one place though!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s