The Spiny Butterfly Ray, (Gymnura altavela) also known as the Giant butterfly ray is native to the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean.
The spiny butterfly ray has many features that make it unique compared to other rays. Its fins are very short and blunt, as well as its snout. The tail is very short and skinny compared to other rays, but still has small spines.
Its color is dark brown to tannish on top and cream white below. It also has small dark spots on it's top. The biggest size ever recorded was 7ft 3 as its disk width. The maximum weight is 130 lbs.
Spiny butterfly rays are ovoviparous and give birth to live young. After their annual reproductive cycle, their gestation period is typically 4-9 months. While in the womb, the young feast on the yolk sac and milk which is given by the uteruses, as they have dual uteruses. The maximum litter size is 8. Strangely, their litter size varies depending on its geographical location. The young's length is 15-17 in. across. Females mature later than males and reach a greater size. It blends in greatly to it's environment. It will not attack people if stepped on, but if it's tail is stepped on, the spines will cause painful wounds.
They eat fish, squid, crustaceans, gastropods, small sharks. The ray attacks its prey by sneaking up an a victim before rapidly spinning over it and striking it with it's pectoral fins. This stuns the prey before it is helplessly devoured.
Typical predators consist of great hammerhead sharks and marine mammals. They are also common victims of tapeworm.
It is found in the Atlantic ocean's tropical waters. It is found off the coast of Massachusetts, and Buenos Aires Province in Argentina, South America. It is rare in the Gulf of Mexico however. But they are common in the tidal creeks along the Virginian coast. More locations include Portugal, Angola, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Canary Islands, and Madeira. It dwells in the brackish coastal waters over sandy spots at a depth of 60-330 ft.