The phenomenon happens twice a year as the rays seek warmer waters.
Longboat Key beachgoers shared the surf with thousands of cownose rays on Nov. 17 as the winged wanderers headed for their winter home. Several people around the island, including Melissa Long who saw them mid-island, photographed the migration as the fever moved as one.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, cownose rays migrate between Florida and the Yucatan twice a year. In the spring, they head to western Florida, but in the fall, they head southwest towards Mexico.
Generally, they're friendly, so there's no need to freak out if you find yourself amidst a fever. However, they're not commonly known as "sting" rays for nothing — they have a stinger on their tail to protect themselves.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.