The Amazing Flight of Little Ray
A young stingray doesn't want to make weak jumps like other flying stingrays. He wants to fly like a bird. His Mama Ray lets him try to beat all odds with his flying fancy.
Fish have strong senses. Little Ray is purposefully motivated, appropriately responsive and consciously alert to his positive and negative results. Still, his flight is a battle.
The experience is awkward, unsettling and exhausting. Stingrays are not born to fly. Like high divers, they leap, then start falling. Movement adds "wow", not height, to their flight.
Little Ray of Flight
Transcript for the below video: “The world helps those who try and try, to fly and fly” (34 seconds). Animations were made from an early edition of "The Amazing Flight of Little Ray". The highly-evolved second edition is in the bookstore.
Fish are maneuverable. Small changes in direction can provide freedom from bad situations and make journeys worthwhile. Of course, Little Ray thinks before choosing his battles.
Fish have feelings. Little Ray knows his Mama is watching. He hears beach-goer reactions. Such external factors enhance his motivation and spark his alertness.
V. R. Duin nature books are factually sound. This story grabs attention and sparks interest in learning about stingrays. Below are some fun facts about the fish and action in the book.
Reach New Heights Like Fish Out of Water:
Flying stingrays do somersaults, flips, rolls, spins, squiggles, twists and turns. They take flights to find food or avoid danger. Predators, noise, temperature, muddiness, filth or stench drive flight. Rays leap for fun, to express themselves or to show off.
Flying stingray flights are range-bound. Gills collapse in the air, which stops oxygen flow. Return to water restarts breathing. People underwater can sense the discomfort of fish in the air.
Stingrays are made of cartilage, not bone. This flexible material softens falls. It equips the star of this story to make his downturns temporary. This fish catches lucky breaks. He falls with great style.
Air travel need not be self-powered. Little Ray may catch an updraft or a wind stream. The albatross can glide around the world, without constant wing flaps or rest stops. Children have no ceilings on their flights.
Fish see the same in air and in water. Vision guides behaviors while swimming and flying solo or in groups. The wide field of view and large depth of field of a fisheye lens show how fish see our world.
Most fish have tongue-like parts. Stingrays have small ones made of cartilage on their mouth floors. Now you know how Mama Ray “held her tongue” about her son's flying stingray goals.
Fish actions, not facial expressions, show fear, rage or calm. Children see concern as Mama Ray frets over Little Ray's daredevil risk-taking to fly.
Mature stingrays have up to 12 pups in a litter. The first litter may have one pup. Inexperienced mothers gain practice by safeguarding fewer babies.
Female stingrays of some species and all discus fish care for their young until they can fend for themselves. Stingrays reach maturity at 1-to-5 years of age.
Highly-developed stingrays can fully care for themselves at birth. Few other fish and no mollusks are born into the ocean as fully-formed miniature adults.
Stingrays are born live. They exit the mother folded like spindles. The stinging spines have sheath coverings to cushion the mother. Birth usually occurs at night.
Newborns sink to the ocean floor, then unfold to begin swim practice and strength training. Within days, consistent and powerful strokes develop for hunting.
Don't worry about the bird in this story. Young stingrays have small and immature stingers. Fish stories end well. Ancient use for stingray toxin seems like a tall tale.
Greek dentists used the toxin to numb pain. The ancient medicine quickly lost strength. Modern drugs have longer shelf lives. The plant-based replacements spare stingrays.
Stingrays typically flee rather than attack. A frightened stingray can strike hundreds of times in seconds. It uses its long, flexible tail to guide the venomous spear.
Worldwide deaths from stingray stings average one or two per year. Most injuries occur to waders' feet. Broken stingers may need surgical removal.
Stingray-eating Orcas, or killer whales, may not avoid harm from stings. Orca carcasses reach New Zealand beaches with stingray barbs stuck in them.
Sawfish are rays. They hunt prey with chainsaw-like blades. The snouts puncture boats and cut into flesh. Survivors may need multiple surgeries.
Stingrays don't hunt with their stingers. When threatened, a stingray swings its tail over its body to sting. The cutting edges slash like a butcher's knife.
The toxic spines stiffen and remain attached. They are not shot like arrows from bows. Unhooking these by-catches presents risks to anglers.
The location of the stinging barb prevents a stingray from striking itself. If it pierces another ray or shark, immunity deactivates the venom. The wound may be deadly.
Stingrays may latch onto things by mouth suction rather than teeth. Mucous skin lining adds adhesion. Little Ray put this to good use for boating friends.
Stingrays have no reason to bite for defense. Crushing bites with suction force are used to eat. Captive, hand-fed stingrays may pinch while sucking in food.
A group of sharks is called a “shiver”. Folks shiver in terror. A group of stingrays is a “fever”. Fever results from infections carried in water to bites and stings.