, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 305–310 | Cite as

Food habits and feeding behavior of the cownose ray,Rhinoptera bonasus, in lower Chesapeake Bay

  • Joseph W. Smith
  • John V. Merriner


The most important food item of the cownose ray,Rhinoptera bonasus, in the Virginian tributaries of lower Chesapeake Bay is the soft shell clam,Mya arenaria. The Baltic macoma,Macoma balthica, ranks a distant second. Adult rays feed on deep burrowing mollusks, juveniles on shallow- or non-burrowing bivalves. Foraging schools of rays invade tidal flats during the flood tide. Stirring motions of the pectoral fins combined with suction from the expansive orobranchial chamber are probably used to excavate deep burrowing bivalves.


Bivalve Baltic Macoma Gill Slit Disc Width Nurse Shark 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Bayliff, W. H. 1951. A record of the cownose ray in Chesapeake Bay.Copeia 1951:100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bearden, C. M. 1959. A life history study of the eagle ray,Myliobatis freminvillei Le Sueur 1824, in Delaware Bay. M.S. Thesis, Univ. Delaware, Newark. 37 p.Google Scholar
  3. Bigelow, H. B., andW. C. Schroeder. 1953. Saw-fishes, guitarfishes, skates, rays and chimaeroids.Mem. Sears Found. Mar. Res. Pt. 2:1–514.Google Scholar
  4. Coles, R. J. 1910. Observations on the habits, and distribution of certain fishes taken on the coast of North Carolina.Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 28:337–348.Google Scholar
  5. Dahlberg, M. D., andR. W. Heard. 1969. Observations on elasmobranchs from Georgia.Q. J. Fla. Acad. Sci. 32:21–25.Google Scholar
  6. Darnell, R. M. 1958. Food habits of fishes and larger invertebrates of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, an estuarine community.Publ. Inst. Mar. Sci. Univ. Tex. 5:353–416.Google Scholar
  7. Godfriaux, B. L. 1970. Food of predatory demersal fish in Hauraki Gulf. 2: Five fish species associated with snapper.N.Z. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 4:248–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Howard, J. D., T. V. Mayou, andR. W. Heard. 1977. Biogenic sedimentary structures formed by rays.J. Sediment. Petrol. 47:339–346.Google Scholar
  9. James, P. S. B. R. 1962. Observations on shoals of the Javanese cownose rayRhinoptera javanica Muller and Henle from the Gulf of Mannar, with additional notes on the species.J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. India 4:217–223.Google Scholar
  10. James, P. S. B. R. 1970. Further observations on shoals of the javanese cownose rayRhinoptera javanica Muller and Henle from the Gulf of Mannar with a note on the teeth structure in the species.J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. India 12:151–157.Google Scholar
  11. Kalmijn, A. J. 1966. Electro-perception in sharks and rays.Nature (Lond.) 212:1232–1233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kalmijn, A. J. 1971. The electric sense of sharks and rays.J. Exp. Biol. 55:371–383.Google Scholar
  13. Kalmijn, A. J. 1972. Bioelectric fields in sea water and the function of the ampullae of Lorenzini in elasmobranch fishes.Scripps Inst. Oceanogr. Ref. Ser. 72–83.Google Scholar
  14. Karl, S., andS. Obrebski. 1976. The feeding biology of the bat ray,Myliobatis californica in Tomales Bay, California, p. 181–186.In C. A. Simenstad and S. J. Lipovsky (eds.), Fish Food Habit Studies. Washington Sea Grant, Seattle.Google Scholar
  15. Lucy, J. A. 1976. Reproductive cycle ofMya arenaria L. and distribution of juvenile clams in the upper portion of the nearshore zone of the York River, Virginia. M. A. Thesis, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, 131 p.Google Scholar
  16. Marsh, G. A. 1973. TheZostera epifaunal community in the York River, Virginia.Chesapeake Sci. 14:87–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Merriner, J. V., and J. W. Smith. 1979. A report to the oyster industry of Virginia on the biology and management of the cownose ray (Rhinoptera bonasus, Mitchill) in lower Chesapeake Bay.Va. Inst. Mar. Sci. Rep. Appl. Mar. Sci. Ocean Eng. 216. 33 p.Google Scholar
  18. Mitchill, S. L. 1815. The fishes of New York.Trans. Lit. Philos. Soc. N.Y. 1:479–480.Google Scholar
  19. Moss, S. A. 1977. Feeding mechanisms in sharks.Am. Zool. 17:355–364.Google Scholar
  20. Murray, R. W. 1960. Electrical sensitivity of the ampullae of Lorenzini.Nature (Lond.) 187:957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Murray, R. W. 1962. The response of the ampullae of Lorenzini of elasmobranchs to electrical stimulation.J. Exp. Biol. 39:119–128.Google Scholar
  22. Orth, R. J. 1973. Benthic infauna of eelgrass,Zostera marina, beds.Chesapeake Sci. 14:258–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Orth, R. J. 1975. Destruction of eelgrass,Zostera marina, by the cownose ray,Rhinoptera bonasus, in the Chesapeake Bay.Chesapeake Sci. 16:205–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Orth, R. J. 1976. The demise and recovery of eelgrass,Zostera marina, in the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia.Aquat. Bot. 2:141–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Otwell, W. S., and G. L. Crow. 1977. Utilization of North Carolina skates and rays. University of North Carolina Sea grant Mini-Project Final Rep. 23 p.Google Scholar
  26. Pinkas, L., M. S. Oliphant, andI. L. K. Iverson. 1971. Food habits of albacore, bluefin tuna, and bonito in California waters.Calif. Fish Game Fish Bull. 152:1–105.Google Scholar
  27. Radcliffe, L. 1916. The sharks and rays of Beaufort, North Carolina.Bull. U.S. Bur. Fish. 34:241–284.Google Scholar
  28. Schwartz, F. J. 1964. Fishes of Isle of Wight and Assawoman Bays near Ocean City, Maryland.Chesapeake Sci. 5:172–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schwartz, F. J. 1967. Embryology and feeding behavior of the Atlantic cownose rayRhinoptera bonasus. Meet. Assoc. Isl. Mar. Lab. Caribb. 7. 1 p.Google Scholar
  30. Shipley, A. E., andJ. Hornell 1906. Report on the cestode and nematode parasites from the marine fishes of Ceylon. Report to the government of Ceylon on the pearl oyster fisheries of the Gulf of Mannar.R. Soc. Lond. Pt. V:60–61.Google Scholar
  31. Smith, H. M. 1907. The fishes of North Carolina.N. C. Geol. Econ. Surv. 2:47.Google Scholar
  32. Smith, J. W. 1980. The life history of the cownose ray,Rhinoptera bonasus (Mitchill 1815), in lower Chesapeake Bay, with notes on the management of the species. M.A. Thesis, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. 151 p.Google Scholar
  33. Tanaka, S. K. 1973. Suction feeding by the nurse shark.Copeia 1973:606–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Turgeon, D. A. 1968. Guide to estuarine and inshore bivalves of Virginia. M.A. Thesis, College of William and Mary Williamsburg, Virginia. 126 p.Google Scholar
  35. Van Blaricom, G. R. 1976. Preliminary observations on interactions between two bottom feeding rays and a community of potential prey in a sublittoral sand habitat in southern California, p. 153–162.In C. A. Simenstad and S. J. Lipovsky (eds.), Fish Food Habit Studies. Washington Sea Grant, Seattle.Google Scholar
  36. Walford, L. 1935. The sharks and rays of California.Calif. Fish Game Fish Bull. 45:61.Google Scholar
  37. Wallace, D. E., R. W. Hanks, H. T. Pfitzenmeyer, and W. R. Welch. 1965. The soft-shell clam… A resource with great potential.Atl. States Mar. Fish. Comm. Leafl. 3. 4 p.Google Scholar
  38. Wang, J. C. S., andE. C. Raney. 1971. Distribution and fluctuations in the fish fauna of the Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Florida.Mote Mar. Lab. Contrib. 112:21.Google Scholar
  39. Wass, M. L. 1972. Phylum Mollusca.Va. Inst. Mar. Sci. Spec. Sci. Rep. 65:122–132.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph W. Smith
    • 1
  • John V. Merriner
    • 1
  1. 1.The College of William and Mary School of marine ScienceVirginia Institute of Marine Science andGloucester Point

Personalised recommendations