An awesome migration is underway in Florida as thousands of cownose rays move down the coast in search of warmer waters. This happens only twice each year, and this time around, residents of the "Sunshine State" were standing by with cameras in hand.

This beautiful footage was captured with the help of a drone by local resident Michael Smith. The flock of rays was likely following small, bottom-dwelling baitfish, which tend to aggregate near the docks, explains Natural Resources Manager Mike Bauer. 

Cownose rays can be easily identified by an indent at the front of the head, and a specialised lobed fin beneath it. This fleshy structure inspired the creature's Latin name, Rhinoptera bonasus, which roughly translates to "nose wing".

"It looked like a brown blanket on top of the water. It was just really fantastic," one onlooker told WKTV News 2. She wasted no time before grabbing her GoPro for a ray's-eye view of the school: 

Because cownose rays rarely rest on the bottom, the chances of accidentally stepping on one are minimal. This means they pose very little threat to human swimmers, despite having a small barb coated with mild venom. 


Top header image: Nano Maus, Flickr