very May, flocks of winged creatures soar just beneath the waves from the Atlantic
Ocean into the Chesapeake Bay. The tips of their kite-shaped bodies slice the surface like shark fins. But they are not sharks—they are members of the same ancient
family of fish with cartilage skeletons and sandpapery skin. They are called
cownose rays, or Rhinoptera bonasus. The name comes from their almost bovine snouts,
beneath which are slit-like mouths that vacuum up clams, crabs, oysters, and other hors
d’oeuvres on the Bay’s bottom.