Habitat and Geography

     Aetobatus narinari live in tropical and warm temperate waters around the globe. They are commonly found in the Western Pacific, Central Pacific, Eastern Pacific, and Central Atlantic. Geographic differences between individuals found in the Western/Central Pacific, Eastern Pacific, and Central Atlantic have led re Photo of A. narinari swimming along the reef. Courtesy of Sheraca. searchers to believe A. narinari is a species complex that originated in the Indo-Pacific (Richards et al. 2009).
     Eagle rays are commonly observed in coral reefs and bays near coastal areas. They often swim near the surface and have the ability to jump completely out of the water. They spend most of their time in pelagic zones, but travel closer to shore a few times a day to feed (for detailed information on the diet of A. narinari, go to the interactions page). This can be problematic in areas with fisheries, because eagle rays are often caught unintentionally as bycatch. Since A. narinari can be found in locations throughout the world, they share their habitat with a myriad of different organisms, such as Hippocampus kelloggi, Cryptotethya crypta, and Enteroctopus dofleini.
    Observations of A. narinari suggest that their behavior  A spotted eagle ray in a coral reef habitat. Courtesy of Delphinusorca. is strongly influenced by the tidal cycle. A study done in Bimini found that A. narinari aggregate in specific core areas during low tides primarily to rest (Silliman and Gruber 1999). A core area is a location that a particular organism is strongly attached to. Various core areas in Bimini shared common characteristics, including having a strong current, being between three and six feet deep, and a temperature of 24-27 degrees Celsius. During high tides, the spotted eagle rays showed the most activity and traveled the greatest distance. As the high tides started to dwindle, they were often observed foraging for food and socializing with other eagle rays, but usually made it back to their core areas by low tide. This type of behavior has also been observed in other marine organisms, such as tuna and billfish.

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