Batoids are flat-bodied fish. Some species are bottom dwellers that feed on a smorgasbord of marine invertebrates (clams, snails, oysters, crustaceans) and the occasional small fish. Others such as the manta ray, are open-ocean swimmers—pelagic creatures that undulate through the water, flapping their broad pectoral fins.
Their eyes sit atop their head, unlike sharks whose eyes are positioned on either side of their head. This placement of the eyes means batoids are blind to their bellies. Their eyes are perched atop their dorsal surface and their disc or diamond shaped bodies are wide and flat, obstructing their underbelly from view. To make up for this ventral "blind spot", batoids have a well-honed sense of smell which they use to locate prey beneath them on the seafloor.
The gill slits of batiods are located on their abdominal (ventral) surface, that means that when the fish is resting on the seafloor, the gill slits are obstructed. Therefore, they have slits located behind their eyes that enable them to take in water (and thus breath) while resting on the seafloor or while they are busy eating.
There are some fantastic creatures in this group—the freshwater sawfish, bowmouth guitarfish, Atlantic guitarfish, thornback, lesser electric ray, spotted electric ray, Atlantic torpedo, rough skate, round stingray. There are banded stingarees and ocellate river rays, mangrove whiprays and bluespotted ribbontail rays, Australian butterfly rays and bat rays, Javanese cownose rays and manta rays. Some batoids are equipped with venomous spines on their tail which serve to deliver a painful sting if they are provoked. For the most part though, stingrays are considered docile creatures that attach only if provoked.
- Tricas, Timothy. 1997. Sharks & Rays. New York: Time-Life Books. 288 p.