June 18, 2016

Seen near Tampa: a fever of stingrays.



Okay, I accept that a group of stingrays is called a "fever," but it's not on Wikipedia's "list of English terms of venery... comprising terms from a tradition that arose in the Late Middle Ages, at least partly from the Book of Saint Albans of 1486." And that includes a hell of a lot of bizarre collective terms, like a bellowing of bullfinches, a busyness of ferrets, a flamboyance of flamingos, a deceit of lapwings, a murmuration of starlings, and a trip of wigeons — and I don't even know what widgeons are* — and a wisdom of wombats.
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*Now, I do. They're dabbling ducks. Dabbling ducks are ducks that eat what's on the surface of the water.

35 comments:

Carol said...

Funny I never, ever had the desire to visit or live in Florida.

Fernandinande said...

The dumb term for a bunch of wombats can't be blamed on a medieval European.

Michael K said...

Mating season. Of cuurse it's a fever.

Amexpat said...

Venery, new word of the day for me. Interesting list. Wonder why Baboons are a troop.

EDH said...

Insert "Cowbell" joke here.

The Drill SGT said...

A Desire of Suitors?

EDH said...

Okay, I accept that a group of stingrays is called a "fever," but it's not on Wikipedia's "list of English terms of venery... comprising terms from a tradition that arose in the Late Middle Ages, at least partly from the Book of Saint Albans of 1486."

Probably because the reason for both the existence and the name is about to be announced: man-caused global warming.

David said...

A barricade of bloggers.

Expat(ish) said...

I saw a ray jump clear of the water near the Jolley bridge on Marcos island when we were kayaking last weekend. I'd never seen that before and it was quite a sight.

A "fever" of them would be super amazing at water level.

-XC

Quaestor said...

a busyness of ferrets

Incorrect. It was decreed many years ago; more than one ferret is called a frenzy.

Unknown said...

Two birds with one stone: a venery of nymphomaniacs.

Fritz said...

I saw a ray jump clear of the water near the Jolley bridge on Marcos island when we were kayaking last weekend. I'd never seen that before and it was quite a sight.

A "fever" of them would be super amazing at water level.


It is, but more difficult to see the extent of the fever. They're a pain in the neck when fishing. They fight like a runaway train, straight and level, and it's mildly dangerous to try to recover the tackle. It's safer and easier to just break them off.

Bricap said...

Cloud of grasshoppers is very apt. I drove into one once on the way from Vegas to Phoenix. Never saw anything like it.

Michael McClain said...

Fever!?! Apply more cowbell!!!

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

My favorite

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

Apply more cowbell!!!

Only if the fever is one of Cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus)

Expat(ish) said...

@fritz - I'm sure you wouldn't be able to tell how big, but the sheer number of fish jumping out of the water to avoid that many rays would be amazing. And I'm sure the rays break surface a lot going after said fish. Super cool.

I've heard the same from people fishing around here about rays.

-XC

Unknown said...

Does the list include a dearth of pretty women or a shitcan of lawyers?

Quaestor said...

Stingrays eat mainly bottom-dwelling molluscs, which is why their teeth are more like a rasp than a steak knife. Which makes me wonder if fish go to much bother to avoid a "fever".

When I was a mere sprat I caught a stingray from a pier near Cocoa Beach (I think it's still there.) on my trusty Zebco. It was longer than I was tall and pretty hefty. The codgers said "12 pounds, easy" and the like, which thrilled me as it was at least six times bigger than anything else I had ever caught. I was at a loss as to what to do with it, however. My tackle was far down its gullet, and I was scared of the sting. One guy offered to take the ray and rig my line from his tackle box, which I thought a fine bargain. Evidently they make good eating. Later that afternoon I caught an anglerfish, which I didn't know what to do with, either.

m stone said...

"murmuration of starlings" more accurately describes their infrequent aerobatic display of synchronization of sweeping wave-like moves that literally makes the viewer's heart "murmur." I've seen one and it is breathtaking.

A bunch of starlings moving along by any other name matters less.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

How about "a novel of trollops"? That's appropriately whorrible.

Roughcoat said...

I hand-fed little stingrays at the water's edge on a beach on Grand Turk Island. They were sweet little creatures, very gentle and soft, they'd nibble at the food daintily and look up at you while they ate with soulful dark eyes. Our guide said they were like cats, and they were.

Michael said...

a murder of crows

Fred Drinkwater said...

Rays are wonderful. One of the few big marine animals you can get really close to. Whale sharks, groupers, turtles, but not many others.
A Vic of eagle rays flying along the edge of a big dropoff is heartstopping. I'd only compare it to seeing a wolfpack in the wild.

BudBrown said...

They taste like scallops.

lgv said...

They didn't show a closeup of the large group. The clips show various species of rays. The most common type of ray in these aggregations are mobula rays. Mobulas are a bit smaller and can easily jump out of the water.

Johanna Lapp said...

A chamberpot of Democrats.

Quaestor said...

They taste like scallops.

Back in the university days me and my posse occasionally dined on the cheap at a nearby seafood restaurant which had a quite limited menu. The whole thing was silk screened on a piece of plywood cut in the shape of a fish. One of the specialties was sea scallops, fried or broiled. One friend insisted that the scallops were in fact made from skate wings with a device resembling a cookie cutter. This sounded plausible to me since the morsels were remarkably uniform. The taste was convincing, however. If skate tasted that good I wondered why skate wasn't sold as itself.

BubBrown's comment moved me to research the possible substitution of skate for scallops. Oddly enough, the Snopes.com page on the subject is missing. Is the fix in just like the NBA?

Quaestor said...

The most common type of ray in these aggregations are mobula rays.

Lesser Devil Ray, (Mobula hypostoma)

Here's a picture miscaptioned as a mass migration of stingrays. Some commenters are doubtful. One claims they are mantas (not likely without the "horns") another says they're "golden rays". They look like like Cownose rays to me. They aren't stingrays; that's for certain.

Roughcoat said...

Rays are wonderful. One of the few big marine animals you can get really close to.

I got next to an enormous humpback whale just off Grand Turk Island. The whales were migrating and there were a lot of them. I actually got close to several but one in particular, a female with a calf--I got between her and her calf. I was about six feet from the mother. I have never seen a living creature that big. What an awesome, transcendent experience that was. Neither the mother nor the calf objected to my presence. I could feel the water swirling around me as she flicked her tail slightly to leisurely propel herself forward. The calf swam by above me, the mother below me. After I got back into the boat a couple of the whales surface and came up right by the boat and kind of rolled over a bit and looked at us. Did I say they were enormous? Did I say that this was an extraordinary experience? It was so extraordinary I can hardly believe it happened, I remember it almost like a dream. I thank God for having that experience.

Quaestor said...

@ BudBrown

Forgive the misspelling. I blame my iPad, the most useless technology since the Newton.

Fritz said...

They look like Cownosed Rays to me to, but there are other similar rays. Cownosed Rays have stingers.

Michael K said...

"A chamberpot of Democrats."

Excellent.

Roughcoat, they are truly awe inspiring. I was sailing one time off the coast of Mexico and saw a sperm whale headed at us.

It was primeval, like Moby Dick.

I have seen lots of grays off California in the spring. There are humpbacks off Newport Beach this year. Just amazing.

George Warburton said...

Dabbling ducks mainly eat what is below the water such as waterweed and insect larvae.

They do this without diving below the surface. They may eat insects on the surface for a snack.