The brutal reality of nature was on full display in a series of National Geographic-worthy photos posted in the Bird Photography Australia Facebook group on Aug. 29, 2021.
The photos, shared by Tina Scott taken along the coast of Western Australia, showed a pied cormorant about to feast on its next meal -- a blue-spotted fantail ray -- only for the tables to turn momentarily.
Ray fights back instintively
Call it instinct or the will to survive or whatever it is that nature does best, the ray did not go down without a slug fest.
Photos showed in great detail the ray using its barbed tail to impale the bird behind its left eye and leaving a bloody mess and a reminder that you can only eat what you can kill.
According to Scott, she encountered the scene near her home in Port Hedland.
Though the sting looked fatal, Scott shared that the feathered animal was unfazed by the sea creature's retaliation.
The barbed tail eventually came loose from the cormorant's cheek, and the bird made sure to hold on tight to its meal.
After taking the photos, Scott watched the bird for over an hour.
The cormorant ate the ray and sunned itself out, drying its feathers, as it not only survived but emerged the clear victor despite the bruising encounter with its food.
Common bird species in Australia
The Pied Cormorant is commonly found along Australia's coasts.
Its diet consists of fish, and sometimes crustaceans.
Birds of such variety are known to be extremely hardy and can survive all kinds of attacks by shaking off seemingly life-threatening damage to live to fight another day.
Blue-spotted fantail ray
According to the Wild Singapore resource website, the blue-spotted fantail ray is one of the most abundant rays in coral reefs found in the region.
With distinctive bright blue spots and blue stripes along the length of its tail, the rays are a sight to behold.
However, the ray has one or two venomous spines near the middle of its tail.
Although stingrays have a reputation of being dangerous, they are typically timid and docile creatures.
They usually only attack in self-defence, and though painful, their stings are rarely deadly to humans.
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Top images courtesy of Tina Scott.