Jun 25

Golden Ray photos of amazing mass migration

Magical: Golden Rays migrating in the Gulf of Mexico

Looking like giant leaves floating in the sea thousands of Golden Rays are seen here gathering off the coast of Mexico.

The spectacular scene was captured as the magnificent creatures made one of their biannual mass migrations to more agreeable waters.

Gliding silently beneath the waves they turned vast areas of blue water to gold off the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Sandra Critelli, an amateur photographer, came across the phenomenon whilst on a whale shark expedition with the Shark Research Expeditions of Philadelphia, on the northern tip of the Jucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. But upon seeing these leaf-like animals, her attentions were quickly switched to the school of fish commonly known as Golden Rays.

Stunning: Onlookers watch as thousands of Golden rays make their migration in the Gulf of Mexico

She said: “It was an unreal image, very difficult to describe. The surface of the water was covered by warm and different shades of gold and looked like a bed of autumn leaves gently moved by the wind.

“It’s hard to say exactly how many there were but in the range of a few thousand.

“We were surrounded by them without seeing the edge of the school and we could see many under the water surface too.

“I feel very fortunate I was there in the right place at the right time to experienced nature at his best.”

Measuring up to 7ft (2.1 metres) from wing-tip to wing-tip, Golden rays are also more prosaically known as cow nose rays.

Arc: The rays, swimming in a long line, was spotted by amateur photographer Sandra Critelli

They have long, pointed pectoral fins that separate into two lobes in front of their high-domed heads and give them a cow-like appearance.

Despite having poisonous stingers they are known to be shy and non-threatening when in large schools.

The population in the Gulf of Mexico migrates, in schools of as many as 10,000, clockwise from western Florida to the Yucatan.

The great ocean migration… thousands of stingrays swim to new seas

Close up: The rays, properly known as Cow-nosed Stingrays, are known because of their bovine-like high-domed heads

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