Research Project ProjectMovement of Life Initiative

Cownose Ray Habitat Use and Migration

Two cownose rays

Cownose Rays are a native, migratory species of eagle ray that visit the Chesapeake Bay from May to October.  Little is known about their behavior within the Bay and about their migration habits along the US Atlantic coast.  With the help of acoustic telemetry, we are learning how these creatures use coastal habitats and whether they are part of a local, regional, or coast-wide population.  This information, in turn, will help inform management of Cownose Ray populations.

Early results are showing that Cownose Rays tagged during summer in Chesapeake Bay spend the winter along the Atlantic Coast of Florida. When they return to the bay the following summer, they often return to the exact same location where they were tagged. The map below shows the first full annual migration track for a Cownose Ray from Chesapeake Bay. The ray was tagged with an acoustic tag and data were obtained from researchers participating in the Atlantic Cooperative Telemetry Network.

Cownose Ray migration