Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay now

Get email updates with the day’s biggest stories

Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Your information will be used in accordance with ourPrivacy Notice.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice

A stingray that seemed to be laughing as it was tickled in a viral TikTok video was actually "suffocating to death", experts have said.

The clip, published on June 7, features a baby stingray opening its mouth wide as a person touches its belly with gloved hands.

It attracted more than 100 million views with thousands commenting on the seemingly sweet encounter.

But experts have now said the expression on the marine creature's face is indicative of the animal suffocating to death.

Some viewers also pointed out that perceiving the stingray as smiling is a classic example of anthropomorphisation – the tendency to project human characteristics onto animals.

The animal would have already been struggling to breathe out of the water

Read More
Related Articles


  • Dog meat festival kicks off in China despite outcry – with 5,000 to be butchered

Read More
Related Articles


  • Scientist working on 'moonshot' to get rid of Covid and all future pandemics

In reality, the situation would have been distressing for the stingray, Aaron Shepard, a researcher at NASA, said.

“This stingray is clearly suffocating to death. The scientific literature is quite clear.

"Like all fish, stingrays have the capacity to feel pain,” Ben Williamson, the programmes director of the nonprofit organisation World Animal Protection in the US, told Insider.

WARNING TAKEN FROM TWITTER Experts have said the marine creature was suffocating to death

The two dots above the stingray's mouth are not eyes but nostrils and the contraction of them signals the animal is struggling to breathe.

The animal’s movement of these body parts in response to the tickle could have been its distress response.

“Like all wild animals, stingrays should be left alone to live out their lives in peace, free from human interference and harmful hobbies, such as sportfishing,” Mr Williamson added.