The animal on the cover of Learning ASP.NET 2.0 with AJAX is a pelagic stingray
(Pteroplaytrygon violacea). The pelagic stingary is found worldwide in temperate to
tropical seas, in both open bays and deep ocean waters. While many other varieties
of rays live near the sandy ocean floor, the pelagic stingray primarily swims in open
water. It has many small sharp teeth and is sometimes seen feeding upside-down or
using its pectoral fins to push food into its mouth. It eats crustaceans, jellyfish,
octopus, squid, and small fish such as mackerel and herring.
Pelagic stingrays can grow up to five feet long and almost three feet wide. This is
small relative to other rays, which can be as long as 14 feet, yet is substantial enough
that its only predators are large marine creature, such as hammerhead and oceanic
whitetip sharks. Its coloring, dark purple or gray on top with a paler underside,
serves to camouflage the stingray from predators above. The pelagic stingray wards
off these predators with serrated, venomous spines, which protrude about one-third
of the way down its tail.
Pups, or baby stingrays, are born in small litters after a two- to four-month gestational
period. At birth, they are between 6 and 10 inches long, and they are able to
feed and take care of themselves. Though pelagic stingrays are often caught unintentionally
in fishing nets, they are not currently endangered, and some scientists have
noted a recent increase in pelagic stingray populations.