Petting Cthulhu
June 23, 2015 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Creature rises from the deep, befriends children [2] [3]. For several years, chuchos negros have been visiting the small fishing town of San Sebastián de la Gomera, Canary Islands (original article in Spanish).

Meanwhile, in the Cayman Islands, their tourist-fed cousins in Stingray City have become a little bit too humanlike: [researchers] found that fed stingrays swapped their normal nighttime foraging for daytime feeding, and in contrast to their wild counterparts, began to rest at night. They also didn't mind rubbing shoulders with their neighbors: At least 164 stingrays abandoned the species' normal solitary behavior, crowding together in less than a quarter square mile of space at Stingray City. They even formed schools and fed together. The fed stingrays mated and became pregnant year-round, instead of during a specific mating season, and also showed signs of unusual aggression, biting each other more frequently than their wild counterparts.
posted by elgilito (30 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
It is very cute! I'd love to pet a stingray. But it sounds like the whole getting-fed-by-humans thing is having a deleterious effect on their behavior.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:52 AM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Stingrays love people! When my parents took us to Shedd Aquarium as kids, there was a ray there in the petting tank that was jumping up to meet us like an eager puppy. Sad story about the Cayman Islands rays, I hope the Canary Islands ones don't go the same way. But either way, I wish this animal was generally less feared.
posted by capricorn at 7:05 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also if you are not yet convinced that rays are adorable, be convinced now.
posted by capricorn at 7:07 AM on June 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


showed signs of unusual aggression, biting each other more frequently than their wild counterparts

This is also how I react to large crowds.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:11 AM on June 23, 2015 [18 favorites]


I wish this animal was generally less feared.
The name "sting-ray" is a bit of an impediment here. If puppies were called "rabid-fangs" the effect would be the same, no doubt.
posted by rongorongo at 7:15 AM on June 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah but...and I don't mean to stereotype the species based on the actions of one misguided individual, but...didn't one of these guys murder the Crocodile Hunter?
posted by Mooseli at 7:28 AM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


didn't one of these guys murder the Crocodile Hunter?

That's a bit unfair. It's not like it snuck into his apartment or ambushed him in a car park.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:35 AM on June 23, 2015 [36 favorites]


There is a stingray petting exhibit at my local zoo that I avoided visiting for a long time because I'm not thrilled about the idea of putting zoo animals in situations that are so unlike their natural habitat. But I finally caved to my child's constant begging to go there. And stingrays really do come up to people like puppies, seeming to ask to be petted, and it is really actually super cute, and my kid is now totally obsessed with stingrays (like, as in, he now sleeps with a plush stingray), so hey, conservation outreach mission accomplished, I guess. It's probably better for this sort of interaction to happen in a zoo than in the wild environment, though, due to the behavior changes it causes.

If anyone hasn't petted a stingray and wants to know what they feel like, my kid described it as "cold wet ravioli," which I think is an apt description, and is somehow way nicer than it sounds.
posted by BlueJae at 7:51 AM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


There is a fundamental neurological difference between me and a person who would voluntarily pet one of those.

This land mammal will appreciate the giant ray's magnificence from a safe, dry distance, thanks.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:01 AM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


these fall into my overall fish fear category of DO NOT WANT but as long as they don't flap their clammy wet wings onto me while i am swimming it's all good.

also i would obviously not want to be stabbed in the heart by one
posted by poffin boffin at 8:20 AM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


You have to come in contact with the barbs on the tail for the stinging to actually happen, and it looks like the kids in the video only touch the rays from the front. Wikipedia says that rays in touch-tank exhibits usually have the barbs removed from their tails, rendering them harmless.

(I love rays dearly--the way they swim is so beautiful--and have certainly seen that eager behavior in touch tanks--the ones at the City Museum in St. Louis nearly jump out of the water to be petted.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:25 AM on June 23, 2015


didn't one of these guys murder the Crocodile Hunter?

You just know the crocs are still pissed about that. All those opportunities, and he bites it from a sting-ray.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:36 AM on June 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


The name "sting-ray" is a bit of an impediment here. If puppies were called "rabid-fangs" the effect would be the same, no doubt.

On the other hand, puppies generally don't bury themselves in the shallows at the beach and jam a barb into the foot of anyone unfortunate enough to step on them.
posted by indubitable at 8:42 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I found these videos super soothing for some reason, and find myself gripped by a desire to go feed a big flappy dude some fishes.

To that end, a Google driveby revealed this calming video of an Australian couple and their dog hanging out with a stingray.
posted by nerdfish at 8:51 AM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well it sounds like it is time to learn the stingray Song and Dance number.
posted by boilermonster at 9:09 AM on June 23, 2015


On the other hand, puppies generally don't bury themselves in the shallows at the beach and jam a barb into the foot of anyone unfortunate enough to step on them.

You've never met my dog.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:19 AM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


I went swimming with giant sting rays off the coast of Belize. When I brushed up against them, they felt like silk. It was really a wonderful experience, unlike what I've heard about Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman, which I avoided when I was there. I've actually seen a variety of different rays (southern rays, eagle rays) and I just find them so soothing to watch. There's something about how they look like they are flying that's just hypnotic to me.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:35 AM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Good ole Rabid Fang
posted by smidgen at 9:35 AM on June 23, 2015


Salvor Hardin, you might be right. My kid who loves stingrays also thinks jumping spiders are adorable, follows garter snakes around our yard, and is the proud caretaker of a rescue hermit crab. Whatever the "beware non-mammalian creatures" gene is, he apparently doesn't have it.
posted by BlueJae at 10:33 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Heh, reminds me of that Stephen King short story, The Raft.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:45 AM on June 23, 2015


"Our attempts to contact the surface world people have again met with indifference. They send their children down to pet us, as if we were mere animals."

"Prepare the invasion forces."

"Aye-aye, Commander Nlqkabi."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:48 AM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh my god I am so taking my children here.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:36 AM on June 23, 2015


Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Chthuchos negros Ca'narias wgah'nagl fhtagn.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:23 PM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


> If puppies were called "rabid-fangs" the effect would be the same, no doubt.

Saving this for the next "name my dog" thread in AskMeFi.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:25 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


This post is all about puppies, and should be tagged as such.

Chuchos Negros literally translate to Black Dogs. With a tiny bit of license, these are Black Sea Puppies.

And Canary Islands means Dog Islands, because of the big dogs that used to be worshiped there and/or because of the abundance of Sea Dogs (monk seals) that the Romans and Greeks saw there.

the video of the dog and the ray has so many layers man
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 2:07 PM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fuckin' ixitxachitl....
posted by The otter lady at 3:04 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chuchos Negros literally translate to Black Dogs.

Closer to "Black Mongrels" or "Black Mutts," which confused me in the translated article because I first thought they were describing some sort of hybrid stingray.
posted by zakur at 3:36 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I only recently learned that stingrays can fly! (Well, technically it's closer to very enthusiastic, flappy jumping. But it's a lot closer to flying than I thought rays could get!)

(Bonus: clip narrated by the tenth Doctor.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:51 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ah, I see the Ancient Ones are back for a visit...

The flying stingrays are going to keep me up at night.
posted by Farce_First at 6:03 PM on June 23, 2015


I love rays! I was even stung by one once. I still have the stinger they pulled out of my foot (while I whimpered in pain that eventually became so bad it caused me to hallucinate). But despite that, I still love rays, they don't all sting and they are just so fucking cool looking!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:08 PM on June 24, 2015


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