Though its name – Shark Ray – seems to confuse the matter, this animal is a member of the order Rhinopristiformes, which includes guitarfishes, shovelnose rays, and sawfishes. Though they are not specifically rays, they are more closely related to rays than sharks.
The common name comes from the animal’s appearance, which includes a flattened head and large triangular pectoral fins like a ray, but also large pointed dorsal fins, an elongated rear body, and a two-lobed tailfin similar to that of sharks.
The shark ray is colored blue or brownish gray above, with lighter spots and markings along its body. These markings fade with age. The patterns and coloration of the shark ray are used for camouflage, and they have been shown to change color according to their surrounding environment.
Its underside is white. There are thorny ridges that run along its head and above its eyes. Its mouth and gills are located on the underside of its body, while its eyes and spiracles (openings used for breathing) are found on the upper side.
Shark rays can grow to nearly 9 feet in length. Like sharks and rays, their skeleton is made of flexible cartilage, rather than bone.