A stingray’s evil eye

"Malevolence! The eye of a common stingray caught by native fishermen in Brooke's Point, Palawan." retirednoway

Malevolence! The eye of a common stingray caught by native fishermen in Brooke's Point, Palawan.

 A poor catch

This eye belonged to one of two stingrays caught by a fisherman who spent all night fishing. It was a poor catch actually since the fisherman caught only enough to feed his family. He would have to fish again the following night. If he had caught more then he would have been able to sell the fish that would have been left over after his needs were met. This poor catch came from depleted fishing grounds. This was the direct consequence of overfishing–most of it due to illegal fishing methods.

I went with the town engineer and media person of Brooke’s Point. We visited a most unusual geographical location–two fresh water spring wells along the beach. What made it unusual was the fact that these wells were submerged during high tide. These were two wells that gushed out fresh drinking water (matabang na tubig). During high tide, both wells were submerged in saltwater (maalat na tubig).

We went in the early-morning because it was low tide. We wanted to inspect the wells or at least the town engineer did. The rest of us just wanted to see them. And see them we did. Here was my report.

Are stingrays edible?

For sure they are. Stingrays taste like regular coral fish. Good eating in other words.

"This was a small stingray. Wingtip to wingtip it measured 51 centimeters (20 inches)." retirednoway

This was a small stingray. Wingtip to wingtip it measured 51 centimeters (20 inches).

This was the other stingray in the fisherman’s meager catch. This was definitely a juvenile. Wingtip to wingtip it measured less than 31 centimeters (12 inches). Being harvested before the stingray has had a chance to reproduce removes a member of that stingray’s generation from the parent pool. You can guess that this practice severely impacts the stingray population in that area.


A fashionable word nowadays is sustainable. Sustainable means “capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment.”

This practice of harvesting juvenile fish contradicts the notion of sustainable fishing. This practice does not support any vision that fishermen in Brooke’s Point will have a bright future. It’s a vicious circle. Fishermen respond to their poor harvests by  harvesting more and more juvenile fish. This puts more pressure on the fish population to decline. Harvests become poorer, fishermen become less discriminating and the cycle repeats itself.

"Retired No Way" "Oring-Oring" "Brooke's Point" Stingray

Juvenile Spotted Stingray and Shallow-water Saltwater Fish

What National Geographic says about them

Stingrays are commonly found in the shallow coastal waters of temperate seas. They spend the majority of their time inactive, partially buried in sand, often moving only with the sway of the tide. The stingray’s coloration commonly reflects the seafloor’s shading, camouflaging it from predatory sharks and larger rays. Their flattened bodies are composed of pectoral fins joined to their head and trunk with an infamous tail trailing behind.

While the stingray’s eyes peer out from its dorsal side, its mouth, nostrils, and gill slits are situated on its underbelly. Its eyes are therefore not thought by scientists to play a considerable role in hunting. Like its shark relatives, the stingray is outfitted with electrical sensors called ampullae of Lorenzini. Located around the stingray’s mouth, these organs sense the natural electrical charges of potential prey. Many rays have jaw teeth to enable them to crush mollusks such as clams, oysters, and mussels.

When they are inclined to move, most stingrays swim by undulating their bodies like a wave; others flap their sides like wings. The tail may also be used to maneuver in the water, but its primary purpose is protection.

"This particular species has two barbs in its tail." retirednoway stingray
This particular species has two barbs in its tail.

The stingray’s spine, or barb, can be ominously fashioned with serrated edges and a sharp point. The underside may produce venom, which can be fatal to humans, and which can remain deadly even after the stingray’s death. In Greek mythology, Odysseus, the great king of Ithaca, was killed when his son, Telegonus, struck him using a spear tipped with the spine of a stingray.

Fast Facts

  • Type: Fish
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Average lifespan in the wild: 5 to 25 years
  • Size: Up to 6.5 ft (2 m)
  • Weight: Up to 790 lbs (350 kg)
  • Protection status: Threatened
  • Did you know? Ancient Greek dentists used the venom from the stingray’s spine as an anesthetic.

National Geographic

How to enlarge these images

Click on the image and then click on the image’s final resolution (encircled).

"How to enlarge an image" retirednoway

How to enlarge an image


8 responses to “A stingray’s evil eye

  1. 🙂 You started the talk on ” fish” on your blog a few months back, look at this issue now : http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2081796,00.html?xid=fblike


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