Piggybacking rays spotted on Great Barrier Reef

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Pink whiprays have been caught on camera for the first time riding on the backs of their larger relatives.

Himantura fai was photographed piggybacking a Smalleye ray, Dasyatis microps, and also a Blotched fantail ray, Taeniurops meyeni.

The reasons for this behaviour are unknown, although piggybacking has also been observed with Pink whiprays in other locations. The researchers say that it may be a form of defence against predators, as by piggybacking larger rays, the smaller whip ray appears bigger itself. It also breaks up the silhouette on which predators can focus.

The behaviour may also have a benefit in feeding or in hydrodynamics, although the researchers say that this doesn’t explain why the rays have also been observed piggybacking larger species on the seabed.

More information 

can be found in the study.