What is the average lifespan of the сownose ray?
The cownose ray is a species of eagle ray, named for the head resemblance to that of a cow. It is classified as a stingray because of its close relation to sharks and skates. They have a toxin coated spine at the base of the tail which can be used for defense. At birth, they are 11-18 inches in width, and mature adults can reach 45 inches in width and weigh 50 pounds or more. Color is typically brown with a white belly. It eats by sucking up clams and oysters shells and grinding them with rough dental plates.
These rays are found throughout a large part of the western Atlantic and Caribbean, from New England, United States to southern Brazil. They are known to migrate in large numbers and long distances, but their pattern and reason for migration is still not fully understood.
After breeding from June-October, an embryo grows within an egg inside the mother. After being fed by the egg yolk, the egg hatches inside the mother and receives continued nourishment through the uterine secretions. Disputed, the gestation period lasts between 11-12 months and is variable. The young are born live. These rays are fairly high on the food chain so they have few predators. Such predators are cobia, bull sharks, sandbar sharks, as well as humans. Scientist have placed the cownose ray as, "Near Threatened" on conservation status
Sexual maturity for both males and females is reached at 4-5 years of age. The cownose ray is known to live between 16 and 18 years.