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Stingray Spiracles Image / Jennifer Kennedy

Cownose ray, showing spiracles located just behind eyes.

Jennifer Kennedy, Licensed to About.com

Spiracles are found in some sharks and all rays. They are a pair of openings just behind the fish's eyes that allow it to draw oxygenated water in from above. The spiracles aid the fish in breathing even when it is lying on the ocean bottom or buried in the sand.


Southern stingrays are a sand-dwelling species that uses its spiracles to breathe when it is lying on the ocean bottom. Spiracles behind the ray's eyes draw in water, which is expelled from its gills on the ray's underside.

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