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Thousands of Migrating Stingrays Make for a Stunning Spectacle [PICS]

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Migrating stingrays are a sight to see.

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You probably know that lots of animals migrate in groups. You might name geese, salmon, or whales. But a mass stingray migration?

That’s the sight that greeted a few lucky boaters who caught the mass exodus of cownose rays in the Gulf of Mexico. The rays, who migrate to warmer waters twice a year, gather in giant schools, or ‘fevers’, of more than 10,000 that stretch as far as the eye can see. As they glide inches below the water surface, they can appear to turn the ocean gold.

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Images via Sandra Critelli and Rory Moore

Would you ever dive in with these rays if given the chance? Let us know in the comments! Also, take a look at this other massive animal migration, and some incredible underwater footage of a stingray battling an octopus.

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Cownose rays are strong swimmers and migrate biannually clockwise between western Florida and the Yucatan in Mexico. The species also migrates in the Atlantic, propelling themselves with pectoral fins that can span more than six feet.

True to their name, these stingrays can pack a punch in their tail, which is sharp and has a venom that delivers symptoms similar to a severe bee sting. In 1608, settler and explorer John Smith speared a cownose ray with his sword and was stung in return. Smith was so in pain his crew dug a grave for him, but he was able to recover and even eat the dead ray that same evening.

Usually the sight of these rays alone is enough to terrify swimmers and divers, as their wingtips breaking the water may appear to be thousands of shark fins. The rays also jump and smack the water surface in an apparent territorial display. However, cownose rays never attack unless provoked, and if you’re brave enough, you can even dive among them during their migration.

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Thousands of Migrating Stingrays Make for a Stunning Spectacle [PICS]