But in recent years, some of these magnificent rays have met the cruelest fate.
Hunters, armed with bows and arrows, board boats and shoot the rays in the water - all for a contest called the Battle of the Rays. Those who don't die instantly are clubbed in the head.
Because the contest takes place in birthing season, most of the rays killed are pregnant and about to give birth. Cownose rays carry just one baby at a time, so there are concerns about the impacts on the ray population. Not only that, the sheer violence of the contest seems needlessly cruel, according to witnesses.