A nine-foot stingray spotted off Horseshoe Bay has been hailed an unprecedented first sighting for local waters.
Divers Chris Brown and Gunar Mayer spotted the colossal Roughtail Stingray in an area known as Hangover Hole, about 500 yards off the South Shore.
Swimmers with the company Dive Bermuda toldThe Royal Gazette its wingspan was five to seven feet, and the animal sported a crop of barnacles along its tail.
The April 22 sighting is one for the books, said Marine Resources Officer Joanna Pitt of the Department of Environmental Protection.
“This is the first Bermuda record of this stingray, which is found in waters from Cape Cod to Argentina and also in the eastern Atlantic,” she said.
“The sighting will be noted in an upcoming publication by Dr. Smith-Vaniz, Dr Collette and Dr Brian Luckhurst, the former Senior Fisheries Officer with the Department of Environmental Protection.
“The paper aims to provide an update to their 1999 book, ‘Fishes of Bermuda’.”
The bottom-dwelling ray sports a venomous spine on its tail, but only for defence against predators, she added.
“As such, divers and snorkellers need not worry about this fish, but rather should keep an eye out for this interesting new addition to Bermuda’s fish fauna.”
Since the Roughtail gives birth to live young, it doesn’t have the same chance as other species to disperse through the ocean as floating eggs or larvae.
Dr Pitt speculated the stingray had hitched a lift to the Island on a floating object.
The Roughtail, known formally as Dasyatis centroura, was identified with help from experts Bill Smith-Vaniz, Bruce Collette and John McEachran, she said.
The only other stingray that frequents local waters is the Pelagic Stingray. Unlike this newcomer, which keeps to the ocean floor, the Pelagic species swims near the offshore surface, often accompanying mats of Sagassum seaweed.