blue spotted ray (#46A, added 7 Jan '98)

This colorful blue-spotted ray was resting under a large table coral when I snapped this shot. The space between the broad coral ledge and the sand was only about five inches; I had to remove the lens viewfinder of the Nikonos V camera to shorten its height enough to fit underneath, and hold the strobe in the other hand nearby. The distance from the 15mm wide-angle lens to the subject was only a few inches.

Rays frequently hide in shallow waters just underneath the sand waiting for their prey, with only their raised eyes slightly exposed. Near the end of their tail is a sharp barb, used in defense, and capable of inflicting a painful, venomous sting to an attacker. Despite this formidable defense, they are very shy, and not a threat to divers. The most frequent human victims of stingrays are people wading in shallow, sandy areas. It is advisable when wading in shallow ocean waters to shuffle your feet to scare away these potentially harmful creatures.

Taeniura lymma (thanks for i.d. help from George at Seapix)