During our regular walks around the island, we often come by some very interesting marine critters hiding in the lagoon waters. Due to the large size of our island and lagoon (5.6km!) and the presence of mangroves, seagrass and the coral reef, we are lucky to be home to some marine life that is very rare or unusual to see on other islands. One of these is the Mangrove Ray.
As its name states, the Mangrove Ray is associated mainly with mangrove, estuarine and rocky intertidal areas, and like other stingrays, the adults love to camouflage themselves in the sandy lagoonal areas. We can identify these critters by an oval shaped body, dark coloration and a short whip-like tail.
Like other cartilaginous fish, (which includes the Sharks, Rays and Skates) the mangrove ray has special sensory organs called the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’. These are a series of ‘jelly-filled’ pores, which allow the individual to sense electric and magnetic fields in the water. As all living animals produce an electrical field when they contract their muscles, this gives the ray a unique ability to detect prey, even when it is hiding underneath the sand! Mangrove Rays for this reason are apt at finding crabs, prawns, worms, octopuses and bivalves hiding in the sand or in rock crevices to feed on!
The Mangrove Ray sadly is currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, and endangered in Southeast Asia due to the extensive removal of the mangrove habitats, in addition to commercial fishing. So next time you are taking a walk along the beautiful sandy beaches at Soneva Jani, take a moment to scan the lagoon for the chance to encounter one of these special Rays, and take a pledge to help protect their natural habitat – the mangroves!
To discover more please visit: www.soneva.com