Scientists have reported that some wild stingrays produce short, loud clicking sounds.

A cowtail stingray (Pastinachus sephen). Image courtesy of John Gaskell.

Joni Pini-Fitzsimmons is a marine scientist and stingray expert at Macquarie University in Australia. In 2018, Joni received an unusual stingray video from a colleague. It showed a mangrove whipray gliding over a reef in the Gili Islands of Indonesia, making short, loud clicks as it moved its spiracles. Spiracles are the respiratory openings near the stingray’s eyes.

Now, Joni and her colleagues have written a scientific paper that describes this clicking noise in two types of stingrays: mangrove whiprays and cowtail stingrays.

Watch this video of stingrays making clicking sounds:

The scientists wonder if the stingrays are making these clicking sounds as a type of defense strategy. But they need to do more research to better understand these newly discovered sounds – both how the sounds are produced and why they are made. The scientists also want to know if other related species make similar sounds too.

This story is adapted from an article by Elizabeth Claire Alberts, published on

Citation for the scientific paper about sound production in wild stingrays:

Fetterplace, L. C., Delgado Esteban, J. J., Pini‐Fitzsimmons, J., Gaskell, J., & Wueringer, B. E. (2022). Evidence of sound production in wild stingrays. Ecology. doi:10.1002/ecy.3812