44 Different Types of Rays: Identification Guide

Different types of rays isolated on a white background

Rays are a diverse group of cartilaginous fish under the Batoidea superorder closely related to sharks. Hundreds of types of rays are found in oceans worldwide, and each type has its unique behaviors and anatomy.

Rays can be classified into various groups: stingrays, manta rays, electric rays, sawfish, guitarfish, butterfly rays, eagle rays, skates, cownose rays, and devil rays. Each group has its unique traits and features.

In this guide, we’ll delve deeper into the various ray species, unveiling their unique characteristics and behavior!


Stingrays are perhaps the most well-known type of ray. They belong to the family Dasyatidae and are recognized by their long, whip-like tails equipped with one or more barbed stingers, which they use for defense.

Stingrays usually have broad, flat bodies and prefer sandy or muddy ocean floors. They feed on small fish and crustaceans, often burying themselves in sand for camouflage.

Although stingrays have become infamous due to the death of the popular “Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin, these rays are considered docile around humans and would only act in self-defense.

1. Southern Stingray

Southern stingray
Scientific Name:Dasyatis americana
Common Names:Southern Stingray, Stingaree, Kit
Unique Features:Diamond-shaped disc; dorsal color varies from dark gray to brown; venomous spine on the tail for defense
Habitat:Shallow coastal, estuarine habitats with sand/silt bottoms; up to 180 feet depth
Size:Up to about 6.5 ft (2 m) from wingtip to wingtip
Weight:Up to 200 lbs (90 kg)
Diet:Bivalves, worms, crustaceans, small fishes
Conservation Status:Near Threatened

The Southern Stingray is a moderately sized stingray that can reach up to 6.5 feet from wingtip to wingtip. They are native to the western Atlantic Ocean, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Several notable characteristics distinguish Southern Stingrays. They have a distinct diamond-shaped disc, which is more angular than other stingray species.

The coloration of their dorsal side ranges from dark gray to brown, often blending with their sandy habitats. Their underbelly is predominantly white, with some coloration from the dorsal side, sometimes bleeding over.

An interesting feature of Southern Stingrays is their long tail, which has a venomous spine. This tail can be twice as long as the body. They use this spine as a defense mechanism rather than for hunting.

2. Bluespotted Stingray

Bluespotted stingray
Scientific Name:Neotrygon kuhlii / Dasyatis kuhlii
Common Names:Bluespotted Stingray, Kuhl’s Maskray, Bluespotted Maskray
Unique Features:Rhomboidal-shape, green body with blue spots; long tail with two venomous spines; bright yellow eyes; spiracles behind eyes for breathing while resting on the sea bed
Habitat:Sandy bottoms near rocky or coral reefs and seagrass beds; commonly found in waters up to 90 meters deep in tropical climates
Size:Up to 18 in (45 cm)
Diet:Feeds on shrimp, small fish, mollusks, crabs, and worms
Conservation Status:Listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN

One of the Bluespotted Stingray’s most distinguishing characteristics is its vividly colored body, adorned with bright blue spots against a dark green backdrop.

This coloration makes the ray visually striking and serves as a warning signal to potential predators about its venomous nature.

Their body shape is rhomboidal, resembling a diamond, which differs from the more rounded bodies of other stingray species.

This angular shape, combined with their relatively small size which can reach up to 18 inches in width, allows for efficient navigation and hiding in their natural habitat.

Another notable feature is their long tail, equipped with two venomous spines, primarily used for defense. Their eyes are positioned to provide a wide angle of view, aiding in predator detection.

Their spiracles, located behind the eyes, allow them to breathe while they rest on the seafloor, which is an adaptation for their bottom-dwelling lifestyle.

3. Giant Freshwater Stingray

Giant freshwater stingray
Scientific Name:Urogymnus polylepis
Common Names:Giant Freshwater Stingray, Giant Freshwater Whipray
Unique Features:Thin, oval pectoral fin disc; elongated snout; long tail with a single serrated stinging spine; grayish brown color above and white underneath
Habitat:Inhabits large rivers and estuaries in Asia and Oceania, favoring sandy or muddy bottoms
Size:Up to 16.5 ft (5 m) long
Weight:Up to 1,300 lbs (590 kg)
Diet:Feeds on small, benthic fishes, crustaceans, mollusks, and earthworms
Conservation Status:Endangered

The Giant Freshwater Stingray is one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world. They are known for their thin, oval-shaped pectoral fin disc, slightly longer than wide.

They can grow to an impressive size of up to 16.5 feet and weigh up to 1,300 pounds. For reference, a standard table tennis table only measures 5 feet wide.

These stingrays have elongated snouts and tails significantly longer than their bodies, equipped with large, serrated stinging spines.

They are typically plain grayish brown above, with a white underside featuring broad dark bands on the fin margins.

Giant Freshwater Stingrays are predominantly found in freshwater habitats such as large rivers and estuaries, such as the Mekong and Chao Phraya basins.

Their diet consists mainly of benthic organisms like small fishes, crustaceans, and mollusks, which they detect using their electroreceptive capabilities.

Fun Fact: The largest freshwater fish recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records is a Giant Freshwater Stingray caught in the Stung Treng region of Cambodia. The historic stingray measured 3.98 m (13.1 ft) long and 2.2 m (7.2 ft) in width.

4. Cowtail Stingray

Cowtail stingray
Scientific Name:Pastinachus sephen
Common Names:Cowtail Stingray, Banana-tail Ray, Drab Stingray, Fantail Ray, Feathertail Stingray, Frill-tailed Stingray
Unique Features:Covered with a broad band of fine dermal denticles; a long and broad-based tail; unique hexagonal, high-crowned teeth; dark brown or black upperside, white underside
Habitat:Inhabits marine, freshwater, and brackish environments, including lagoons, reef flats, and reef faces; found in depths up to 60 meters
Size:Up to 9.8 ft (3 m) long; up to 5.9 ft (1.8 m) wide
Weight:550 lbs (250kg)
Diet:Feeds on bony fishes, worms, shrimp, and crabs
Conservation Status:Near Threatened

As its name suggests, one of the distinguishing features of the Cowtail Stingray is its tail. Their tails are long and broad-based with lower caudal fin folds but are notably less than twice the body length.

This tail is not just physically imposing but is also functionally significant. It has a venomous spine situated further behind the tail base, a vital defense mechanism capable of delivering a painful sting to predators.

Another distinctive characteristic of Cowtail Stingrays is their skin, which is covered by a broad band of fine dermal denticles. These denticles give them a slightly rough texture and may aid in protection.

These stingrays’ teeth are also unique. Their teeth are hexagonal and high-crowned, well-adapted for their diet, which includes bony fishes, worms, shrimp, and crabs.

These stingrays are typically found in diverse environments, including lagoons, reef flats, and reef faces, in marine, freshwater, and brackish waters. They can live in depths up to 60 meters.

5. Bluespotted Ribbontail Stingray

Bluespotted ribbontail stingray
Scientific Name:Taeniura lymma
Common Names:Bluespotted Ribbontrail Ray, Blue Spotted Lagoon Ray, Lagoon Ray, Reef Ray, Ribbon-tailed Stingray
Unique Features:Striking neon blue spots on a yellowish-brown or green background, with blue stripes on its tail
Habitat:Shallow temperate and tropical waters, continental shelves, coral reefs, depths up to 20 meters (66 feet)
Size:Up to 12 in (30 cm) in width and 28 in (70 cm) long
Diet:Feeds on mollusks, worms, shrimps, crabs, small fishes
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Bluespotted Ribbontail Stingray is easily recognized by its bright blue spots and stripes, which stand out against its yellowish-brown or green body.

This striking appearance makes them a favorite among divers and marine enthusiasts and helps them blend into the coral reefs where they live.

These spotted rays prefer shallow, warm waters in the Indo-Pacific region. Their habitat includes coral reefs and nearby sandy areas, where they hunt for food during high tides.

Unlike many stingrays, Bluespotted Ribbontails don’t bury themselves in the sand, making them more visible to observers. However, you should be cautious in interacting with them as they also have venomous stingers.

Diet-wise, Bluespotted Ribbontail Rays feed on small sea creatures like mollusks, worms, shrimps, and crabs. They use their mouth underneath their bodies to dig and find prey in the sand.

Fun Fact: Bluespotted Ribbontail Stingrays have a superpower-like ability called electroreception, which allows them to detect the electrical fields produced by other animals! This cool feature helps them find hidden prey buried in the sand.

6. Atlantic Stingray

Atlantic stingray
Image credit: keepin_it_reel_official / Instagram
Scientific Name:Dasyatis sabina / Hypanus sabinus
Common Names:Atlantic Stingray, Florida Ray
Unique Features:One of the smallest stingrays; elongated snout, spade-shaped pectoral fin disk; brown/yellowish-brown color; long, whip-like tail with an annually replaced serrated spine
Habitat:Inhabit coastal waters, estuaries, and lagoons in the western North Atlantic; prefers sandy or silted seabed
Size:Up to 15 in (39 cm)
Diet:Feeds on bivalves, tube anemones, amphipods, crustaceans, nereid worms
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Atlantic Stingray is a species found in the western North Atlantic Ocean. These rays are unique for their adaptability to various salinities, thriving in coastal waters, estuaries, lagoons, and freshwater rivers.

Smaller than many of their relatives, Atlantic Stingrays typically reach about 15 inches in marine environments and are slightly smaller in freshwater habitats.

Their bodies are characterized by a spade-shaped pectoral fin disk and a long, whip-like tail equipped with a serrated spine for defense that is replaced yearly.

Atlantic Stingrays’ color is usually a blend of brown or yellowish-brown, aiding in camouflage against sandy and muddy bottoms where they often hide.

They feed mainly on benthic invertebrates such as bivalves, worms, and small crustaceans. Their feeding mode involves stirring the sediment to uncover hidden prey, aided by their electroreceptive abilities.

7. Bluntnose Stingray

Bluntnose stingray
Scientific Name:Dasyatis say /Hypanus say
Common Names:Bluntnose Stingray, Say’s Stingray
Unique Features:Rounded diamond-shaped disc with a blunt snout; tail is one and a half times body length with a serrated venomous spine; yellowish to light gray on top, white or gray underside
Habitat:Subtropical coastal waters, lagoons, and estuaries; near shorelines, often buried in mud or sand.
Size:Up to 40 in (100 cm) in width
Diet:Feeds on annelid worms, bivalves, gastropods, ray-finned fishes
Conservation Status:Near Threatened

The Bluntnose Stingray is easily identified by its distinctively blunt snout and the classic rounded-diamond-shaped disc, making it a unique member of the stingray family.

These stingrays’ coloration ranges from yellowish to light gray on top, with a lighter underbelly, helping them blend into sandy or muddy environments.

Bluntnose Stingrays are moderate in size, up to 40 inches wide, and are known for their nocturnal behavior, preferring to stay buried in sand or mud during the day.

Their habitat includes subtropical coastal waters, lagoons, and estuaries. Their diet mainly consists of small sea creatures like polychaetes, bivalves, and ray-finned fishes, which they locate using electroreception.

Although this species possesses a venomous spine used for defense, it poses little threat to humans and is considered non-aggressive.

8. Roughtail Stingray

Roughtail stingray
Scientific Name:Dasyatis centroura /Bathytoshia centroura
Common Names:Roughtail Stingray
Unique Features:Among the largest whip-tail stingrays; a diamond-shaped disc with a dark brown or olive coloration on top and almost white below; the tail is black and can be twice the body length
Habitat:Can be found in tropical to warm temperate waters of the North Atlantic; inhabits muddy and sandy substrate
Size:Up to 8.5 ft (2.8 m)
Weight:Up to 800 lbs (360 kg)
Diet:Feeds on crustaceans, cephalopods, bony fishes, and polychaete worms
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

The Roughtail Stingray stands out as one of the largest stingrays, with a distinctive appearance. They can grow over 8.5 feet wide and weigh up to 800 pounds, making them an impressive sight in the ocean.

These stingrays are characterized by their diamond-shaped disc, dark brown or olive color on top, and almost white underside.

One of their most notable features is their long, slender tail, about two and a half times the length of their body. Their bodies are adorned with thorny tubercles and venomous spines for defense.

Roughtail Stingrays inhabit the North Atlantic’s tropical to warm temperate waters, preferring muddy and sandy substrates. They are found at depths of up to 200 meters, mainly in coastal waters, bays, and estuaries.

Their diverse diet includes crustaceans, cephalopods, bony fishes, and polychaete worms, showcasing their adaptability as opportunistic carnivores.

9. Pelagic Stingray

Pelagic stingray
Scientific Name:Pteroplatytrygon violacea
Common Names:Pelagic Stingray, Blue Stingray, Guilers Stingray, Violet Stingray
Unique Features:Broad wedge-shaped disc, wider than long; dark purple or blue-green dorsal surface, purplish to gray underside; tail with a venomous spine
Habitat:Distributed worldwide in tropical to temperate waters; open waters
Size:Up to 63 in (1.6 m)
Weight:Up to 110 lbs (50 kg)
Diet:Feeds on planktonic crustaceans, jellyfish, fish, octopus, shrimp
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Pelagic Stingray is perfectly named after its distinctive oceanic behavior. “Pelagic” refers to the open sea, a habitat quite different from the typical shallow coastal environments where most stingrays are found.

These rays’ wide-ranging habitat in tropical and temperate waters worldwide correlates with their name, indicating their ability to thrive in the pelagic zone of the ocean.

They are often found 100 meters on the ocean’s surface and have been reportedly caught 240 meters deep, which is unusual for a stingray.

This preference for deeper, open waters influences their physical traits, such as the dark purple or blue-green coloration on their dorsal surface, which camouflages them against the deep ocean waters.

Furthermore, their feeding habits and mobility are adapted to this open-sea lifestyle. They feed on a diet of pelagic species, such as squid, decapod crustaceans, shrimp, octopus, and fish.

10. Yellow Stingray

Yellow stingray
Scientific Name:Urobatis jamaicensis
Common Names:Yellow Stingray, Round Stingray, Yellow Spotted Stingray, Maid Stingray
Unique Features:Round pectoral disc and rounded pelvic fins; no dorsal fins, venomous spine near the small tail fin; coloration varies, typically displaying mottled yellow or brown
Habitat:Shallow water in sandy or muddy habitats, often buried in the substrate; found in coastal waters of the western Atlantic region
Size:Up to 26 in (66 cm) long and 14 in (36 cm) in width
Diet:Feeds on polychaete worms, such as bristle worms, benthic crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Yellow Stingray is relatively small compared to other rays, usually growing up to 26 inches in length, with a disc width of around 14 inches

They have a round pectoral disc and rounded pelvic fins, creating a distinct, almost circular shape. One of the most notable features of Yellow Stingrays is their coloration.

They often display a mottled pattern of brown and yellow hues, allowing them to blend seamlessly with sandy ocean bottoms. The ray’s underside typically exhibits a yellowish or brownish-white coloration.

The tail of Yellow Stingrays is short and lacks dorsal fins but features a venomous spine near the small caudal fin. This spine is used primarily for defense.

Manta Rays

Manta rays, belonging to the family Mobulidae, stand out distinctly among rays due to their immense size and unique feeding habits.

These rays, which include the Giant Manta Ray (Mobula birostris) and the Reef Manta Ray (Mobula alfredi), are known for their enormous wingspans. Their size is a significant differentiator from other ray species.

Unlike most rays that forage on the ocean floor, manta rays are filter feeders, swimming through water with their mouths open to consume plankton.

Their cephalic fins, which resemble horns, and their forward-facing large mouths aid in funneling food. These characteristics, along with their intelligence and curiosity towards humans, make them unique among rays.

They are often seen leaping out of the water and are known for being curious about humans.

11. Reef Manta Ray

Reef manta ray
Scientific Name:Mobula alfredi
Common Names:Reef Manta Ray
Unique Features:Broad mobile cephalic fins; tail equal to or shorter than its disc width; large gill plates with fused lateral lobes and rounded terminal lobe
Habitat:Tropical and subtropical regions of the Indian and West Pacific Ocean; frequently found in shallow waters along coastal reefs and oceanic islands
Size:Up to 13 ft (4 m) in width
Weight:Up to 1500 lbs (700 kg)
Diet:Filter feeders, primarily consuming plankton
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

Reef Manta Rays are the graceful giants of the ocean, captivating the hearts of marine enthusiasts and divers around the world.

They boast an impressive wingspan, with some reaching up to 13 feet, resembling underwater birds in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian and West Pacific Oceans.

These mantas are not just massive but beautifully unique, with broad, mobile cephalic fins and a shorter tail that sets them apart from their oceanic cousins.

These gentle giants have an intriguing way of feeding. They consume plankton, filtering these tiny organisms through their open mouths as they swim.

I once witnessed a fascinating group behavior of Reef Manta Rays when I went to Maldives for a vacation. More than a hundred Reef Manta Rays gather, performing a rare feeding behavior called “cyclone feeding.” 

During cyclone feeding, up to 150 manta rays come together to form a large, spiraling circle around a dense group of plankton, creating an underwater spectacle that resembles a cyclone.

Fun Fact: Reef Manta Rays are known for their impressive “cleaning stations” behavior. They frequently visit specific areas on coral reefs where small fish, like wrasses and butterflyfish, remove parasites and dead skin from their bodies. 

12. Giant Manta Ray

Giant manta ray
Scientific Name:Mobula birostris
Common Names:Giant Manta Ray, Oceanic Manta Ray, Pelagic Manta Ray
Unique Features:Largest species of ray in the world; dorsal white shoulder markings, creating a ‘T’ in black; large gill plates with fused lateral lobes and rounded terminal lobe
Habitat:Tropical, marine waters worldwide; occasional in temperate seas
Size:Up to 26 ft (8 m) in width
Weight:Up to 5,300 lbs (2,400 kg)
Diet:Filter feeders: consume planktonic organisms and small fish​ species
Conservation Status:Endangered

Giant Manta Rays are fascinating ocean dwellers, often referred to as the ‘gentle giants of the sea.’ Their wingspan can stretch up to a remarkable 26 feet, making them the largest species of rays in the world.

But despite their size, they’re harmless, feeding on tiny plankton and krill by filtering them with their gills.

These rays are not only big but also quite “brainy!” They boast the largest brain-to-body size ratio of any fish, hinting at high levels of intelligence. This is evident in their curious behavior around divers and swimmers.

They are also easily recognizable by their unique body shape, which resembles a large, flat diamond, with wing-like pectoral fins that help them glide gracefully through the water.

One of the coolest facts about these creatures is their individuality. Each ray has a unique pattern of spots on its belly, much like a human fingerprint, which scientists use for identification.

Though they roam vast tropical and subtropical oceans, they face significant threats from commercial fishing, particularly for their gill plates, pushing them onto the endangered species list.

Electric Rays

Electric Rays, a unique group within the Torpediniformes order of rays, are known for their ability to generate electricity. This ability is not just for show; they use it primarily to defend and stun their prey.

These rays have a rounded body and are often well-camouflaged, and they are found mostly on sandy or muddy sea floors.

What sets electric rays apart is their specialized organs, known as electric organs, located on each side of their heads. These organs can produce a significant electrical charge to zap predators or prey.

Despite their shocking ability, electric rays are generally not aggressive towards humans.

13. Marbled Electric Ray

Marbled electric ray
Scientific Name:Torpedo marmorata
Common Names:Marbled Electric Ray, Marbled Torpedo Ray, Common Crampfish, Spotted Torpedo
Unique Features:Electric organs capable of generating up to 200 volts; mottled brown skin for camouflage
Habitat:Eastern Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea; found in rocky reefs, seagrass beds, and adjacent sandy and muddy bottoms
Size:Up to 39 in (100 cm)
Diet:Ambush predator; feeds on small fish
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

The Marbled Electric Ray is a unique member of the ray family, famed for its ability to produce electricity. This species inhabits the sandy and muddy bottoms of the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Their bodies, adorned with a mottled brown pattern, blend seamlessly into the ocean floor, making them skilled ambush predators.

Unlike other rays, the Marbled Electric Ray doesn’t have venomous barbs. Instead, it is equipped with specialized electric organs at the base of its pectoral fins.

These organs can generate an electric shock of up to 200 volts, used to stun prey like small fish or to defend against predators. Despite this defense mechanism, they pose little threat to humans.

These rays are nocturnal, spending daylight hours buried in the sediment with only their eyes visible. They emerge at night to hunt, using their electric shock to immobilize prey before consumption.

Fun Fact: Although not deadly, the shock of a Marbled Electric Ray can stun a human. Be careful!

14. Lesser Electric Ray

Lesser electric ray
Scientific Name:Narcine bancroftii
Common Names:Lesser Electric Ray, Caribbean Numbfish
Unique Features:Can generate electric shocks from 14 to 37 volts; has a circular pectoral disc and a stout tail with two small dorsal fins and a triangular caudal fin; color ranges from dark brown to reddish
Habitat:Found in shallow coastal waters, buried beneath sand, mud, or among seagrass; common in the Gulf of Mexico and along the western Atlantic Ocean
Size:22–33 in (56–84 cm)
Diet:Feeds mainly on polychaete annelids, benthic worms, juvenile snake eels, sea anemones, small bony fish, and various crustaceans​
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Lesser Electric Rays, also known as Caribbean Numbfish, are intriguing sea creatures. They are small, slow-moving rays found primarily in the Western Atlantic, from North Carolina to Brazil, and in the Gulf of Mexico.

These rays have a distinctive near-circular body and a short tail. Like other electric ray species, Caribbean Numbfish can generate electrical shocks.

They possess two electric organs located on the front of their eyes to the rear end of the disc, which can produce a peak voltage of around 14 to 37 volts.

Interestingly, these rays are quite the beach lovers, often found lounging under the sand or mud in shallow waters. Their diet is as varied as their habitat, including small fish, crustaceans, and worms.

While their shocking ability might sound intimidating, they pose little threat to humans unless provoked.

15. Atlantic Torpedo

Atlantic torpedo
Scientific Name:Torpedo nobiliana
Common Names:Atlantic Torpedo, Atlantic Electric Ray, Great Torpedo Ray
Unique Features:Capable of delivering shocks of 220 volts; large paddle-shaped caudal fin; dark gray-brown dorsal surface with a light underside
Habitat:Found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, ranging from northern Scotland to South Africa and from Nova Scotia to Brazil
Size:Up to 6 ft (1.8 m) long
Weight:Up to 200 lbs (90 kg)
Diet:Primarily feeds on crustaceans, mollusks, worms, and other invertebrates and fishes
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Atlantic Torpedo Rays, also known as Great Torpedo Rays, are also rays that can give a real shock. They are one of the biggest species in the electric ray family.

These rays can grow up to six feet long and weigh as much as an adult human, about 200 pounds.

True to their name, Great Torpedo Rays can produce electric shocks as strong as 220 volts. That’s like a very powerful electric fence!

They use this ability to protect themselves and to catch their meal, which includes fish like flounders and even small sharks.

These rays live in the Atlantic Ocean, from places as far north as Canada to as far south as Brazil.

They like a variety of spots in the ocean, from shallow shores to deep waters, and they can swim pretty far to find the perfect place to live.

Fun Fact: The Atlantic Torpedo Ray was used in Ancient Greece and Rome as a remedy for gout and chronic headaches. 

This early use of electric therapy shows that even in ancient times, people were tapping into the unusual abilities of sea creatures for medicinal purposes!

16. Pacific Electric Ray

Pacific electric ray
Scientific Name:Torpedo californica
Common Names:Pacific Electric Ray
Unique Features:Round pectoral disc, tall dorsal fin, large caudal fin; capable of generating up to 50 volts electric charge
Habitat:Found in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean: sandy bottoms around rocky reefs and kelp beds
Size:Up to 4.5 ft (1.4 m)
Weight:Up to 90 lbs (40 kg)
Diet:Feeds on fish like halibut, mackerel, flatfish, kelp bass, anchovies, hake, herring, and invertebrates including cephalopods
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Pacific Torpedo Ray thrives in the cool waters of the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Like other electric rays, Pacific Torpedo Rays can produce electric shocks of around 50 volts.

The round pectoral disc and tall dorsal fin that hallmark this species aid in their navigation through a diverse range of habitats, from sandy bottoms to rocky reefs to mysterious kelp beds.

They can grow up to 4.5 feet, with females growing bigger than males. The organs that allow them to produce electric shocks are vital for hunting prey like halibut and mackerel and for warding off potential threats.

17. Giant Electric Ray

Giant electric ray
Image credit: Tam Warner Minton
Scientific Name:Feeds mostly on polychaete worms but may also consume sea squirts, gastropods, octopuses, and cuttlefish
Common Names:Giant Electric Ray, Cortez Electric Ray, Cortez Numbfish
Unique Features:Capable of delivering electric shocks; flattened pectoral fin disk; tail equal in length to the disk; skin is soft and loose without denticles or thorns
Habitat:Eastern Pacific Ocean, from the Gulf of California to Panama; found in shallow water on sandy bottoms, sometimes adjacent to reefs
Size:Up to 2.5 ft (60 cm)
Diet:Feeds mostly on polychaete worms but may also consume sea squirts, gastropods, octopuses, and cuttlefish
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

Giant Electric Rays are found in the eastern Pacific, from the Gulf of California to northern Peru, and favor shallow, sandy environments, often near reefs.

They are often referred to as Cortez Numbfish. This common name, “Cortez,” likely refers to the Gulf of California, historically known as the Sea of Cortez, where this species is commonly found.

Similar to other electric ray species, their ability to generate electric shocks is a skill used for defense and capturing prey.

Reaching up to 2.5 feet in length, these rays have a distinctive appearance with a flattened pectoral fin disk and a tail equal in length to the disk.

Their diet primarily consists of polychaete worms and occasionally sea squirts. Interestingly, they exhibit a nocturnal lifestyle, spending the daytime buried under sand and becoming active at night for feeding.


Skates are a fascinating group within the ray family, known scientifically as Rajiformes. Unlike their stingray cousins, skates do not have venomous stingers.

Instead, they are recognized for their long, pointed snouts and unique reproductive methods. Skates lay eggs in leathery cases, often called “mermaid’s purses,” which they deposit on the ocean floor.

These creatures are commonly found in colder ocean waters around the world. They have a flattened body and large pectoral fins resembling wings, which they use to glide gracefully through water.

They primarily feed on bottom-dwelling organisms like crustaceans and small fish.

18. Arctic Skate

Arctic skate
Scientific Name:Amblyraja hyperborea
Common Names:Arctic Skate, Blackbelly Skate
Unique Features:Distinctive coloration and thorn pattern; the dorsal surface is dark with small rounded spots; the underside is either dark with light spots or light with dark markings
Habitat:Lives near the seabed in the Arctic Ocean and waters around Canada, north-western Europe, the northern Pacific Ocean, and waters surrounding Antarctica and New Zealand
Size:Up to 40 in (102 cm)
Diet:Feeds on a wide variety of benthic organisms
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Arctic Skates stand out from other rays in several notable ways. Firstly, their habitat is unique — they thrive in the extreme cold of the Arctic Ocean and nearby waters, a trait uncommon in most ray species.

These skates are found at considerable depths, ranging from 140 to 2,500 meters, in environments such as Baffin Bay, Greenland, and northern Norway.

What sets Arctic Skates apart is their distinct physical appearance. They typically reach up to 40 inches in length, and their dorsal surface is characterized by a dark gray to brown color with small, rounded spots.

The underside’s coloration is variable, often contrasting with dark markings. Another distinguishing feature is their thorn pattern; they have a series of spines along their back and tail, more so than similar species.

This feature, along with their sharp, narrow teeth, differentiates them from other skates, like the Thorny Skate, which has flat, pavement-like teeth.

Arctic Skates’ diet primarily consists of various benthic organisms, reflecting their seabed habitat. Reproduction-wise, they are oviparous, laying eggs in cold waters.

19. Thorny Skate

Thorny skate
Scientific Name:Amblyraja radiata
Common Names:Thorny Skate, Maiden ray, Miller, Starry ray, Starry skate, Thornback, Thorny-back Skate
Unique Features:Rounded diamond-shaped pectoral disks, stout tails, thorny denticles along their spines, edges of pectoral fins, and tails; the upper surface is rough with scattered thornlets
Habitat:Marine and brackish waters, on a variety of substrates like sand, broken shells, gravel, pebbles, and soft mud
Size:28–39 in (71–99 cm)
Weight:Maximum published weight is 9.2 lbs (4.2 kg)
Diet:Feeds on crustaceans, bony fish, polychaete worms, crabs, shrimp, anemones, and eel
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

Thorny Skates, found in the Atlantic Ocean, are named for the thorny projections, or denticles, on their bodies, giving them a unique texture and appearance.

These skates are different from stingrays as they lack venomous spines. They have rounded, diamond-shaped bodies and prefer cooler environments, thriving in marine and brackish waters.

They grow up to 39 inches, with variations depending on their habitat. Their color is generally brown with potential darker spots, and the underside is typically white with possible darker blotches.

Diet-wise, they are known to consume various sea life, including crustaceans and small fish, making them important players in their ecosystems.

Due to their commercial value and slow reproduction, they are now vulnerable. As a result, certain regions, particularly in the western North Atlantic, have restricted their commercial fishing to protect the species.

20. Barndoor Skate

Barndoor skate
Scientific Name:Dipturus laevis
Common Names:Barndoor Skate, Barn-door Skate, Barn-door Winter Skate
Unique Features:Among the largest skate species in the world; has a broad disk with sharply angled corners and a pointed snout
Habitat:Inhabits various ocean bottoms, including soft muddy, sandy, and rocky
Size:Up to 60 in (152 cm)
Weight:Up to 40 lbs (18 kg)
Diet:Feeds on benthic invertebrates, gastropods, crustaceans, flounders, and fishes
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Barndoor Skates are among the largest skate species worldwide. They are named for their broad, door-like shape, featuring a distinct disk with sharply angled corners and a pointed snout.

The upper surface of Barndoor Skates is typically brownish with scattered dark spots, while its underside is white with gray blotches.

These skates are versatile in their habitat preferences, ranging from sandy and rocky ocean bottoms to soft, muddy areas.

They are found at various depths, often between the shoreline and 750 meters, but are most commonly seen at depths less than 150 meters.

Their diet is diverse, consisting mainly of benthic invertebrates and fishes. They feed on various prey, including polychaetes, flounders, mollusks, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, and various fish species.

21. Big Skate

Big skate
Scientific Name:Raja binoculata
Common Names:Big Skate
Unique Features:Diamond-shaped body with stiff snout and small eyes; dark eye-like spots on the dorsal surface of the pectoral fins, surrounded by a pale border
Habitat:Inhabits temperate waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean; commonly found on sandy and muddy bottoms
Size:Up to 8 ft (2.4 m) long
Weight:Up to 200 lbs (90 kg)
Diet:Feeds on polychaete worms, mollusks, crustaceans, and small benthic fishes
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Big Skates are easily recognizable by their unique diamond-shaped body and distinctively stiff snout. What makes them particularly interesting are the large, dark spots on their pectoral fins, resembling eyes.

These spots are thought to help deter predators, as they give an impression of a much larger creature.

Big Skates prefer a habitat that includes sandy and muddy bottoms, ranging from shallow intertidal zones to depths of around 120 meters.

They are commonly found along the coast, from the eastern Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands down to Baja, California.

Their diet primarily consists of bottom-dwelling creatures such as worms, mollusks, crustaceans, and small fishes. This varied diet reflects their role as important predators in their ecosystem.

22. Common Skate

Common skate
Scientific Name:Dipturus batis
Common Names:Common Skate, Blue Skate, Flapper Skate
Unique Features:Considered the largest skate species; flattened diamond-shaped body, pointed snout, and a row of thorns along the tail
Habitat:Prefers habitats including open coasts and offshore seabeds and is found in substrates such as coarse sand, muddy gravel, and sandy mud
Size:Up to 9 ft (2.8 m)
Weight:Up to 214 lbs (97 kg)
Diet:Crustaceans, clams, oysters, snails, bristle worms, cephalopods, and a variety of small to medium-sized fish
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

The Common Skate is a remarkable species within the ray family, notable for being one of the largest skates in the world. They can grow up to 9 feet in length, distinguishing them from other skate species in size.

This immense size, combined with their unique features, such as a broadly angular snout and deeply concave anterior margin, make them stand out in their marine habitats.

Ironically, Common Skates are now considered “uncommon” and face a significant threat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified them as Critically Endangered.

The main reasons for their dwindling numbers are overfishing and habitat destruction. These factors are exacerbated by the skate’s slow growth rate and low reproductive rate, which hinder their ability to repopulate quickly.

The Common Skate’s role as a predator, feeding on bottom invertebrates and fish, is crucial in maintaining the ecological equilibrium.

Butterfly Rays

Butterfly rays, belonging to the family Gymnuridae, are a fascinating group within the diverse world of rays.

Characterized by their large, flat, and distinctly rounded pectoral fins, they resemble a butterfly’s wings, which is how they get their name.

Their unique shape allows them to glide gracefully through the water, often buried in sandy or muddy ocean floors.

Found in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide, butterfly rays prefer coastal habitats, ranging from shallow inshore waters to depths of about 80 meters.

They have a wide, flattened body and a short tail, lacking the typical stinging spine found in many other rays. This feature makes them less threatening to humans compared to other ray species.

Butterfly rays feed primarily on bottom-dwelling invertebrates, like crustaceans, mollusks, and small fishes.

23. Spiny Butterfly Ray

Spiny butterfly ray
Scientific Name:Gymnura altavela
Common Names:Spiny Butterfly Ray
Unique Features:Very broad disk and short tail armed with a spine; the upper surface is typically dark brown to grayish, with the underside varying from white to a rosy or rusty cast
Habitat:Inhabits marine and brackish waters, typically found at depths ranging from 5 to 100 meters; a demersal species living close to the seabed​
Size:Maximum reported width is 13 ft (4 m)
Weight:Maximum published weight is 132 lbs (60 kg)
Diet:Diet includes fishes, crustaceans, mollusks, and plankton​
Conservation Status:Endangered

Spiny Butterfly Rays are intriguing marine creatures recognized for their distinctive appearance.

They are noted for their wide, flat disk, resembling butterfly wings. This unique shape makes them stand out among other ray species.

These rays inhabit marine and brackish waters, usually at depths between 5 and 100 meters. They prefer areas close to the seabed, such as sandy and muddy bottoms, where they can easily find food.

One of the most noticeable features of Spiny Butterfly Rays is their short tail, which is equipped with a spine, unlike other butterfly rays that typically lack such a feature.

Spiny Butterfly Rays have a varied diet that includes fishes, crustaceans, mollusks, and plankton. Their feeding habits play an important role in the balance of the marine ecosystem.

Currently, they are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, indicating that they face a high risk of extinction in the wild.

24. Australian Butterfly Ray

Australian butterfly ray
Image credit: CSIRO National Fish Collection
Scientific Name:Gymnura australis
Common Names:Australian Butterfly Ray, Butterfly Ray, Rat Tailed Ray
Unique Features:Has a wide, flattened body and relatively short tail, without a dorsal fin; the dorsal side typically appears brownish-grey with a pattern of small, irregular dark spots and larger diffuse dark blotches​
Habitat:Inhabits coastal to offshore waters on the continental shelf, including estuaries and intertidal zones, and prefers open sandy, muddy, and silty areas
Size:Up to 37 in (94 cm)
Weight:Up to 16 lbs (7.4 kg)
Diet:Primarily feeds on bony fishes
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Australian Butterfly Ray also possesses the striking traits of other butterfly rays: a wide, flattened body.

This broad, disc-like shape is a key factor in their swimming style, allowing them to glide gracefully through the water.

The common name “Rat Tailed Ray” likely comes from their relatively short rat-like shaped tail, which, in comparison to their broad body.

Unlike many other rays, they lack a dorsal fin or caudal sting, making their tail appear more prominent and distinct.

This tail feature, combined with their smooth skin and lack of significant defensive structures, sets them apart from other ray species.

These rays’ habitat preference for coastal to offshore waters, including estuaries and intertidal zones with sandy, muddy, and silty substrates, also contributes to their uniqueness.

25. Japanese Butterfly Ray

Japanese butterfly ray
Image credit: Daiju Azuma
Scientific Name:Gymnura japonica
Common Names:Japanese Butterfly Ray
Unique Features:Wide, kite-shaped disc, small eyes, a short tail with a small caudal sting, and completely smooth skin​
Habitat:Sandy or muddy bottoms in shallow tropical to warm-temperate waters​
Size:Up to 57 in (145 cm) in width
Diet:Likely feeds on small fishes​ and other ray species
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

Japanese Butterfly Rays are found in the Northwest Pacific region. Like other butterfly rays, they have a wide, kite-like disc. Additionally, these rays possess small eyes and a short tail, which features a small caudal sting.

Their natural habitat preference includes environments with sandy or muddy substrates. They are typically found in areas ranging from tropical to warm-temperate waters, often frequenting bays and shallow coastal zones.

Conservation-wise, they are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, signaling concerns about their declining population. This decline is mainly attributed to fishing pressures.

26. California Butterfly Ray

California butterfly ray
Image credit: charlie_toneyiii / Instagram
Scientific Name:Gymnura marmorata
Common Names:California Butterfly Ray
Unique Features:Broad, rhomboidal disc; bluntly pointed snout; brown with mottled spots​
Habitat:Warm-temperate to tropical shallow bays and beaches from Southern California to Northern Peru; sandy and muddy bottom
Size:Up to 48 in (122 cm)
Diet:Feeds on crustaceans and small fishes
Conservation Status:Near Threatened

California Butterfly Rays are native to the Eastern Pacific. They are primarily found in warm-temperate to tropical shallow bays and beaches. Their preference for shallow areas makes them a common sight in their range.

California Butterfly rays have an extremely broad, rhomboidal disc much wider than long. Their snout is very bluntly pointed and relatively short, adding to their unique appearance.

The skin is usually smooth, without denticles, and features a mottled pattern of small pale and large dark spots. This distinctive coloration serves as an excellent camouflage against the sandy ocean bottom.

They feed primarily on crustaceans and small fishes. In terms of reproduction, they are ovoviviparous, meaning the embryos develop inside eggs retained within the mother’s body until they hatch.

Despite their venomous spines, they are not considered a significant threat to humans.


Sawfish are part of the family Pristidae and are closely related to sharks and stingrays. They are easily distinguishable by their long, flat snouts lined with teeth, resembling a saw. These saw-like snouts are called rostrum.

These rays use their snouts to detect and capture prey, often swinging it side-to-side to stun fish. Sawfish are critically endangered due to habitat loss and overfishing.

Found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world, they prefer shallow coastal environments like estuaries, rivers, and bays.

They are known for their ability to live in both salt and fresh water, which is quite unusual among rays. Sawfish can grow quite large, with some species reaching lengths up to 7 meters (23 feet).

One of the most notable aspects of sawfish is their critically endangered status. They face threats from habitat loss, pollution, and fishing — both targeted and accidental as bycatch.

27. Narrow Sawfish

Narrow sawfish
Image credit: CSIRO National Fish Collection
Scientific Name:Anoxypristis cuspidata
Common Names:Narrow Sawfish, Knifetooth Sawfish, Pointed Sawfish
Unique Features:Notable for its narrow rostrum with 16 to 26 pairs of blade-like teeth; lacks rostral teeth in the bottom fourth of the rostrum and has a distinct lower caudal lobe
Habitat:Inhabits nearshore estuarine (juveniles and pupping females) and offshore marine waters (adults), from the West Pacific through southern Asia to the Red Sea​
Size:Up to 15 ft (4.6 m)
Diet:Diet includes crustaceans, cuttlefish, squid, and various small teleosts​
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

Narrow or Knifetooth Sawfish are remarkable for their distinct snout that resembles a saw. This elongated snout, known as a rostrum, is edged with sharp teeth and used effectively in hunting and self-defense.

Unique among sawfish, Narrow Sawfish have a particularly slender rostrum, giving them the ‘knifetooth’ name.

These sawfish inhabit tropical coastal waters and estuaries and sometimes venture into freshwater systems. They prefer shallow, murky waters, which aids in their hunting strategy.

Using their saw-like rostrum, they swipe at schools of fish, stunning or injuring them before consumption.

Narrow sawfish grow quite large, with lengths up to 15 feet reported, although such large sizes are becoming rare.

In terms of conservation, they are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Their population has declined dramatically due to overfishing, habitat loss, and the demand for their unique rostrum in curio trades.

28. Dwarf Sawfish

Dwarf sawfish
Image credit: Gant223
Scientific Name:Pristis clavata
Common Names:Dwarf Sawfish, Queensland Sawfish
Unique Features:One of the smallest sawfish species
Habitat:Inhabits shallow, turbid, and tidally influenced river mouths, creeks, and estuaries, primarily in the Indo-West Pacific, most commonly reported in Australia​
Size:Up to 10 ft (3 m)
Diet:Feeds on a variety of prey, including prawns, mullets, herrings, and other small fishes​
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

Dwarf Sawfish are quite distinguishable from other sawfish. Unlike their relatives, these sawfish are relatively small, growing up to 10 feet. This compact size is significant, as most sawfish are known to be larger.

These sawfish are typically found in shallow coastal waters and estuaries. They prefer muddy or sandy bottoms, where they can easily camouflage and hunt for prey.

Their habitats are often in tropical and subtropical regions, particularly around northern Australia and Southeast Asia.

Their diet primarily consists of small fish and crustaceans. They can skillfully detect and capture prey using their saw-like snout, making them effective hunters despite their smaller size.

Note: Catching or harming endangered species is illegal. If, by chance, you have accidentally caught the Critically Endangered Dwarf Sawfish, you must quickly release it without harm. 

You can read the guidelines provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for more information on how to release endangered species safely.

29. Smalltooth Sawfish

Smalltooth sawfish
Scientific Name:Pristis pectinata
Common Names:Smalltooth Sawfish
Unique Features:Has a distinct long, flat snout edged with teeth that resembles a saw; typically has an olive gray/brown coloring
Habitat:Inhabits tropical seas and estuaries of the Atlantic Ocean, often in shallow, coastal waters and sometimes the lower reaches of freshwater river systems
Size:Up to 18 ft (5.5 m)
Weight:Over 100 lbs (45 kg)
Diet:Primarily eats fish but may also consume invertebrates such as shrimp and crabs
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

The distinctive saw-like snout of Smalltooth Sawfish, lined with teeth, is not just for show but serves a vital role in their survival.

Their rostrum is equipped with thousands of sensory organs, allowing the sawfish to detect prey movements by sensing the electric fields they emit.

This unique feature enables them to navigate in murky waters and find food sources such as crustaceans and mollusks that are hidden in the sea bed​​.

Found primarily in shallow coastal waters and estuaries in the Atlantic, Smalltooth Sawfish favor habitats like mangroves and river mouths​​​​.

They can grow impressively large, reaching lengths of up to 18 feet, yet despite their size and fearsome appearance, they are not known to be aggressive towards humans​​.

Smalltooth Sawfish are distinguishable from other sawfish species mainly by their rostral tooth count and orientation, having 20 to 30 teeth on each side. This is different from Largetooth Sawfish, which have fewer but larger teeth​​.

30. Green Sawfish

Green sawfish
Scientific Name:Pristis zijsron
Common Names:Green Sawfish, Longcomb Sawfish
Unique Features:Largest sawfish species; long, narrow rostrum with 23 to 37 pairs of rostral teeth; greenish-brown color​
Habitat:Inhabits the Indo-West Pacific Ocean, nearshore waters, sand, and mud flats, deeper offshore waters
Size:Up to 23 ft (7 m)
Weight:Up to 770 lbs (350 kg)
Diet:Likely feeds on small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

The Green Sawfish is a unique species of ray, notable for its distinct elongated snout lined with numerous teeth. They have more rostral teeth than other sawfish species, ranging from 23 to 37 pairs.

Green Sawfish’s body color is a mix of greenish-brown or olive on the top, with a creamy white underside.

Primarily found in the Indo-West Pacific region, including areas from Australia to Thailand, these sawfish inhabit nearshore waters near sand and mud flats and deeper offshore waters less than 100 meters.

Young Green Sawfish are often found in shallower waters, while adults prefer offshore habitats. This species can grow impressively large, reaching lengths over 23 feet, making it potentially the largest sawfish species.

Unfortunately, like most of their relative species, these sawfish are critically endangered due to various threats, including fishing, habitat loss, and entanglement in fishing nets.

31. Largetooth Sawfish

Largetooth sawfish
Image credit: J. Patrick Fischer
Scientific Name:Pristis pristis
Common Names:Largetooth Sawfish
Unique Features:Have a more robust rostrum than other sawfish species; rostral teeth evenly spaced, 14 to 24 per side; affinity for freshwater; agile and can jump out of water​
Habitat:Estuaries, marine waters up to 25 m depth; greater affinity for freshwater than other sawfish​
Size:Up to 21 ft (6.4 m)
Diet:Likely small fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

The Largetooth Sawfish stands out among sawfish for its distinctive and more robust rostrum with 14 to 24 teeth on each side.

This unique feature, used for hunting and defense, sets them apart from other sawfish, like Smalltooth Sawfish, which have more rostral teeth and thinner rostrums.

Another distinguishing factor of Largetooth Sawfish is their preference for freshwater habitats, unlike their mostly marine relatives.

Found in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide, Largetooth Sawfish favor estuaries and marine environments, often dwelling in waters less than 10 meters deep.

Remarkably adaptable, they thrive in salt and freshwater, displaying behaviors such as jumping out of water and “climbing” using their pectoral fins. This adaptability is rare among marine rays and sawfish.

Tragically, Largetooth Sawfish also face critical challenges. Like other sawfish species, they are listed as Critically Endangered. 

Their population has plummeted due to habitat loss, overfishing, and entanglement in fishing gear.

Eagle Rays

Eagle Rays, belonging to the family Myliobatidae, are remarkable marine creatures known for their distinctive appearance and behaviors.

These rays are characterized by their broad, wing-like pectoral fins that facilitate graceful swimming, resembling a flying bird.

They typically possess a wingspan ranging from 6 to 9 feet in width and can weigh up to 500 pounds, with some species, like the Spotted Eagle Ray, being among the largest in their family.

These rays are predominantly found in tropical and temperate ocean regions worldwide, often in coastal waters, coral reefs, and occasionally in bays.

Their habitat choices reflect their active swimming lifestyle, as they do not rest motionless on the seafloor like some related ray species.

Eagle Rays are also known for their ability to leap out of the water, a behavior that could serve various purposes, such as escaping predators or social interaction.

32. Common Eagle Ray

Common eagle ray
Scientific Name:Myliobatis aquila
Common Names:Common Eagle Ray, Sea Eagle
Unique Features:Diamond-shaped pectoral disc; dusky bronze or blackish dorsal surface, white ventral surface; long, whip-like tail
Habitat:Tropical to warm temperate waters, shallow lagoons, bays, estuaries, occasionally offshore
Size:Up to 6 ft (1.8 m)
Weight:Up to 32 lbs (14.5 kg)
Diet:Crustaceans and bivalve mollusks, polychaete worms, gastropods, sea pens, and small fish
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

Common Eagle Rays are notable for their distinct appearance. They have flattened, triangular bodies and long, whip-like tails. You can find them in the Eastern Atlantic and down to parts of the North Sea.

They inhabit shallow, sandy, muddy bays, estuaries, and lagoons. They’re quite adaptable, living in waters as deep as 300 meters in some regions​​​​.

These rays lead intriguing lives. They are typically solitary or found in small groups and are known to be somewhat shy around humans unless bait is used to attract them.

Their diet primarily consists of invertebrates such as crabs, bivalves, worms, and small fishes.

Reproduction in Common Eagle Rays is quite unique. They are oviviviparous, meaning the females give birth to live young that have developed from eggs within their body.

33. Bull Ray

Bull ray
Scientific Name:Aetomylaeus bovinus
Common Names:Bull Ray, Duckbill Ray, Duckbill Eagle Ray
Unique Features:Long, flat snout like a duck’s bill; light brown with blue-grey stripes; pectoral disc with sharply curved corners​
Habitat:Coastal tropical and warm temperate waters; estuaries, lagoons, continental shelf; depth 10–150 m​
Size:Up to 7 ft (2.1 m)
Weight:Up to 256 lbs (116 kg)
Diet:Feeds on crustaceans and mollusks​
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

Bull Rays, also known as Duckbill Eagle Rays, are a distinctive species recognizable by their long, flat snouts resembling a duck’s bill; hence, their name.

Their bodies are light brown with occasional pale blue-grey stripes, and they have a large pectoral disc with angular, sharply curved corners.

Bull Rays are often found in estuaries, lagoons, and continental shelves, inhabiting tropical and warm temperate coastal waters.

They are comfortable at depths ranging from 10 to 150 meters, sometimes even observed near the surface. This versatility in habitat shows their adaptability in different marine environments.

Bull Rays have a carnivorous diet, primarily feeding on bottom-dwelling crustaceans and mollusks. This dietary preference highlights their role as predators in the marine ecosystem.

34. Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted eagle ray
Scientific Name:Aetomylaeus narinari
Common Names:Spotted Eagle Ray
Unique Features:Among the largest species of rays; countershading camouflage, white belly, dark patterned top; “duckbill” snout and specialized teeth for crushing shells; long, whiptail with venomous spines
Habitat:Open ocean, reef edges, prefers warm water with soft bottoms, typically up to 60 m deep
Size:Up to 9 ft (2.8 m) in width and 16 ft (4.9 m) long, including tail
Weight:Up to 500 lbs (227 kg)
Diet:Feeds on crustaceans, bivalves, gastropods, small fish, and octopus
Conservation Status:Endangered

Probably one of the most popular types of rays, Spotted Eagle Rays are known for their distinctive appearance. Their broad, flat bodies and elongated, wing-like pectoral fins make these rays easily recognizable.

They are most notable for their dark tops speckled with white spots or rings, which contrast sharply with their white undersides. This unique pattern serves as an effective camouflage in the ocean.

These rays inhabit warm temperate and tropical waters, commonly found in shallow coastal areas, including bays and estuaries, around coral reefs, and occasionally in open ocean.

They are often observed gliding gracefully near the surface of the water. Spotted Eagle Rays are a migratory species known to travel long distances across oceans.

Their diet primarily consists of small fish and crustaceans, mollusks, and particularly sea snails, which they forage for using their duck bill or shovel-shaped snouts.

Fun Fact: Spotted Eagle Rays can jump out of the water, a distinctive characteristic of eagle ray species! Watch this video to see how eagle rays gracefully jump out of the water:

Giant Eagle Rays Launching Themselves into the Air 🌊 Epic Animal Migrations | Smithsonian Channel

35. Mottled Eagle Ray

Mottled eagle ray
Image credit: Hamid Badar Osmany
Scientific Name:Aetomylaeus maculatus
Common Names:Mottled Eagle Ray, Ocellate Eagle Ray, Ornate Eagle Ray
Unique Features:Distinctive mottled color pattern, exceptionally long spineless tail over six times the length of the body
Habitat:Found in Indo-West Pacific region, inshore environments like mangrove creeks and sandy channels
Size:Up to 6.5 ft (2 m) in width
Diet:Primarily feeds on crustaceans and mollusks
Conservation Status:Endangered

The Mottled Eagle Ray is most recognizable for its unique mottled coloration or blotchy appearance. They have a mix of white spots on the posterior half of their brownish-green dorsal part.

This mottling pattern sets them apart from other ray species and is a camouflage mechanism in their natural habitat. They also have a significantly long tail.

Mottled Eagle Rays are typically found in the Indo-West Pacific region, from India to China and Indonesia. They prefer coastal environments such as mangrove creeks and protected sandy channels.

These rays are an active species known for their ability to travel long distances. Their diet mainly consists of crustaceans and mollusks, which they forage for on the sea floor.

36. Bat Eagle Ray

Bat eagle ray
Scientific Name:Myliobatis californica
Common Names:Bat Eagle Ray, Bat Ray
Unique Features:Wide, angular pectoral disc resembling bat wings, dark brown to black top, whip-like tail, venomous spine at base
Habitat:Eastern Pacific Ocean; in muddy or sandy sloughs, estuaries, bays, kelp beds, rocky-bottomed shorelines
Size:Up to 6 ft (1.8 m)
Weight:Up to 200 lbs (90 kg)
Diet:Feeds on mollusks, crustaceans, small fish
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Bat Rays are a fascinating species of eagle rays commonly found in the eastern Pacific Ocean. These rays are renowned for their distinctive appearance, resembling bats in flight.

They possess wide, angular pectoral fins, which give them an impressive wingspan, often reaching up to six feet.

The top of their body is typically dark brown to black, while the underside is lighter, providing camouflage against predators when seen from below.

Bat Rays are often found on sandy or muddy bottoms and inhabit shallow coastal environments like estuaries, bays, and kelp beds. They are often seen skimming along the ocean floor.

Their diet mainly consists of mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish, which they uncover using wing-like pectoral fins to move sand and expose their prey.

Bat Rays are known for their interesting reproductive behavior, where males follow and choose their mates by smelling chemical signals. These rays are considered non-aggressive to humans and are popular attractions in marine parks.


Guitarfish, belonging to the order Rhinobatiformes, are distinct from other ray types for several reasons.

Their body shape is a blend between typical rays and sharks, featuring an elongated body with a flattened front and a shark-like tail.

This distinctive structure, resembling a guitar, sets them apart from the more disc-like bodies of stingrays and manta rays.

They typically inhabit tropical and warm temperate waters and are often found in shallow regions where they feed on small fishes, crustaceans, and mollusks, unlike other rays, which are generally found in open oceans.

37. Common Guitarfish

Common guitarfish
Scientific Name:Rhinobatos rhinobatos
Common Names:Common Guitarfish, Common Mediterranean Guitarfish
Unique Features:Dorsoventrally flattened body, khaki-brown dorsal surface, white ventral surface, long snout
Habitat:Eastern Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, sandy and muddy bottoms up to 100 meters deep
Size:55–64 in (130–163 cm) in length
Diet:Crustaceans, invertebrates, small fish
Conservation Status:Endangered

The Common Guitarfish is found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, ranging from the Bay of Biscay to Angola and throughout the Mediterranean Sea, especially prevalent in the southern and eastern regions.

This species inhabits waters up to 100 meters deep, often seen swimming slowly over or partially buried in sandy and muddy bottoms

Physically, the Common Guitarfish has an elongated tubular body with fins on the torso and tail and a wide, flat pectoral disc at the head, giving it an appearance between sharks and rays.

They typically grow to about 55 to 64 inches in length. The dorsal surface is usually khaki-brown, while the underparts are white, providing effective camouflage in the muddy shallows and inshore areas.

Their diet mainly consists of crustaceans, other invertebrates, and small fish, which they ambush by pinning them down with their long snouts before sucking into their mouths.

38. Giant Guitarfish

Giant guitarfish
Scientific Name:Rhynchobatus djiddensis
Common Names:Giant Guitarfish, Whitespotted Wedgefish
Unique Features:Large size, brownish/greyish color with white spots, long snout, black spot above pectoral fins in juveniles
Habitat:Inshore waters of the Western Indian Ocean, continental shelf up to 70 meters deep
Size:Up to 10 ft (3 m) long
Weight:Up to 500 lbs (227 kg)
Diet:Feeds on crabs, bivalve mollusks, small fish
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

The Giant Guitarfish has a flattened body with a distinctively long, broad snout and expansive pectoral fins. This body shape contributes to its guitar-like silhouette.

Typically, they are gray or brownish on the top with a white underside. They are notably large, with some individuals reaching up to 3 meters in length, which is almost 10 feet.

The Giant Guitarfish is found primarily in shallow coastal waters, including estuaries and lagoons. Its habitat range extends across the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean.

As a bottom-dweller, it spends most of its time near the sea floor. In terms of diet, this species is carnivorous, feeding on various marine organisms like fish, crustaceans, and mollusks.

39. Shovelnose Guitarfish

Shovelnose guitarfish
Scientific Name:Rhinobatos productus
Common Names:Shovelnose Guitarfish, California Guitarfish
Unique Features:Shovel-shaped snout, body that blends features of both sharks and rays, gray to brown coloration with a white underside
Habitat:Pacific coast of North America, from San Francisco, California, to the Gulf of California in Mexico; prefers sandy or muddy bottoms in coastal waters, often in bays and estuaries
Size:4 ft (1.2 m) in length
Diet:Feeds on invertebrates like worms, crabs, and clams, as well as small fish
Conservation Status:Near Threatened

The Shovelnose Guitarfish is another interesting species particularly known for its distinctive shovel-shaped nose, which gives it its common name.

Appearance-wise, the Shovelnose Guitarfish possesses a flattened body and a long, pointed snout that resembles a shovel, contributing to its unique profile.

The body coloration typically ranges from gray to brown, with white undersides, helping it blend into the sandy ocean floor where it often resides.

The Shovelnose Guitarfish is predominantly found along the Pacific coast of North America, ranging from San Francisco, California, to the Gulf of California in Mexico.

It favors sandy or muddy bottoms in coastal waters, often in bays and estuaries. This environment provides the guitarfish with ample opportunities to forage for food, which mainly consists of invertebrates like worms, crabs, and clams, as well as small fish.

Cownose Rays

Cownose Rays are a distinctive group within the ray family. They belong to the family Myliobatidae, which includes eagle and manta rays.

This group of rays is known for its members having wing-like pectoral fins and a more active swimming style compared to other rays like stingrays and skates.

One of the most striking features of Cownose Rays is their unique forehead structure. Their rostrum is moderately notched, giving them a cow-nose-like appearance, hence the name.

These rays are also known for their distinctive coloration, often light to dark brown with a golden or bronze tint and a white or whitish-yellow underside.

40. American Cownose Ray

American cownose ray
Scientific Name:Rhinoptera bonasus
Common Names:American Cownose Ray
Unique Features:The head has a special indentation, and the snout is uniquely split into two lobes; the body has a broad and almost kite-like shape; the tail becomes thinner and whip-like towards the end
Habitat:Can be found in both the ocean and brackish waters, like estuaries; often seen near the sea bed and can dive up to 22 meters
Size:Up to 7 ft (2.1 m)
Diet:Durophagous: feeds on hard-shelled organisms like mollusks and crustaceans
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

The recognizable feature of American Cownose Rays is their unique forehead indentation and two-lobed snout, which resemble a cow’s nose.

With a broad, kite-like body, they grow up to 7 feet across. These rays are adaptable and thrive in oceanic and slightly salty waters, often found near sea beds up to 22 meters deep.

Their diet mainly consists of shellfish like clams and scallops, which they skillfully unearth and crush using their strong jaws. They are intelligent hunters, using a combination of fin movements and suction to capture prey.

These rays are also known for their impressive migration, where they travel in large groups that may consist of more than 10,000 individuals.

41. Lusitanian Cownose Ray

Lusitanian cownose ray
Image credit: tal shema
Scientific Name:Rhinoptera marginata
Common Names:Lusitanian Cownose Ray
Unique Features:Medium to large species with a lozenge-shaped disk; head protrudes from disk with a distinctly concave front; the snout is divided into two parts
Habitat:Bentho-pelagic in tropical and warm temperate coastal waters, shallow bays, lagoons, and estuaries
Size:Up to 6.5 ft (2 m)
Diet:Feeds on bottom-living mollusks, crustaceans, and fishes
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

The Lusitanian Cownose Ray is found along the western coast of Africa and in parts of the Mediterranean Sea. Characterized by their unique shape, these rays’ disk is wider than long, creating a lozenge-like appearance.

Like other cownose rays, the front of the Lusitanian Cownose Ray’s head is notably concave, and the snout is split into two lobes, contributing to their distinct profile.

These rays prefer benthopelagic zones, inhabiting coastal waters, including shallow bays, lagoons, and estuaries. These rays are social and are often observed swimming in large groups near the surface.

Their diet consists of bottom-dwelling creatures like mollusks, crustaceans, and fish, which they forage for in their habitats.

Devil Rays

Devil Rays are part of the Mobula genus. Unlike stingrays, which are notorious for their venomous tail spines, Devil Rays lack these dangerous barbs, making them less of a threat to humans.

They share a similar flattened body shape and large pectoral fins with manta rays, but they are generally smaller and have a more pointed snout.

One of the fascinating aspects of Devil Rays is their ability to leap out of the water, a behavior not commonly observed in other types of rays like skates or sawfish.

42. Giant Devil Ray

Giant devil ray
Scientific Name:Mobula mobular
Common Names:Giant Devil Ray, Spinetail Devil Ray
Unique Features:Largest devil ray species, known for deep diving abilities
Habitat:Found in warm seas, primarily in offshore and deep waters of the Mediterranean and occasionally in shallow waters
Size:Up to 16 ft (5 m)
Diet:Feeds on small pelagic fishes, crustaceans, and planktonic organisms
Conservation Status:Endangered

The Giant Devil Ray is named for its imposing size and unique physical features. This ray can grow remarkably large, with a wing disc length reaching up to 16 feet, making it among the largest species of its genus.

The name ‘Devil Ray’ comes from their distinct appearance. They possess cephalic fins on their heads, which, when rolled up, resemble horns, giving them a “devil-like” silhouette.

This unique feature, combined with their large, flattened bodies and long, slender tails, creates an impressive and somewhat intimidating appearance.

Giant Devil Rays are also noted for their deep diving capabilities, with the ability to dive to depths of up to 700 meters.

Despite their size and appearance, these rays are known for their gentle nature. They feed primarily on small pelagic fishes and crustaceans, using their cephalic fins to funnel food into their mouths.

43. Lesser Devil Ray

Lesser devil ray
Scientific Name:Mobula hypostoma
Common Names:Lesser Devil Ray, Atlantic Devil Ray
Unique Features:The dorsal surface varies from light brown to black, sometimes blue; some have a dark grey collar between their spiracles; tail shorter than disc width, with no spine
Habitat:Found in shallow, warm coastal waters, typically from the surface to 100 meters deep
Size:Up to 4 ft (1.2 m) in width
Weight:Maximum published weight is 256 lbs (116 kg)
Diet:Feeds mainly on planktonic crustaceans and small schooling fishes
Conservation Status:Endangered

Lesser Devil Rays, although not as large as their relatives, still command attention with a maximum wing disc length of about 4 feet.

Their dorsal surface presents a range of colors from light brown to black, and some individuals even display a unique dark grey collar between their spiracles.

These rays inhabit warm, shallow coastal waters of the Western Atlantic. They are often observed in groups, with populations varying from a couple to as many as 40 individuals.

What sets Lesser Devil Rays apart from other ray species is their behavior of swimming at high speeds and their ability to leap above the water surface, a thrilling sight for observers.

Their diet mainly comprises planktonic crustaceans and small schooling fishes, which they capture using their distinctive cephalic fins.

44. Chilean Devil Ray

Chilean devil ray
Scientific Name:Mobula tarapacana
Common Names:Chilean Devil Ray, Sicklefin Devil Ray, Box Ray, Greater Guinean Mobula, Spiny Mobula
Unique Features:Olive-green to brown dorsal surface with dark ventral markings; tail shorter than its disc width and covered in scales; known for deep-diving abilities
Habitat:Oceanic and occasional coastal waters, found in tropical and temperate oceans globally
Size:Up to 12 ft (3.6 m)
Weight:Up to 771 lbs (350 kg)
Diet:Feeds primarily on small fishes and planktonic crustaceans
Conservation Status:Endangered

The Chilean Devil Ray is known for being one of the largest in its genus. They can reach a disc width of up to 12 feet.

Their dorsal surface is distinctive, typically olive-green to brown, and they have a tail shorter than their disc width.

These rays are found in tropical and temperate oceans across the globe, displaying a preference for deep oceanic waters.

What makes the Chilean Devil Ray truly remarkable is its deep-diving behavior. They are known to dive to depths of 2,000 meters. This ability allows them to inhabit a diverse range of oceanic environments.

Unfortunately, the Chilean Devil Ray faces threats from overfishing and bycatch, leading to their classification as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Frequently Asked Questions

A group of rays swimming over the coral reef

How Many Types of Ray Are There?

There are over 600 species of rays, categorized into 26 families within the superorder Batoidea. Rays are distinct for their flattened bodies and enlarged pectoral fins fused to the head.

This superorder includes various types, such as stingrays, electric rays, and manta rays, each with unique characteristics and environmental adaptations.

Their habitats range from coastal waters to deep-sea regions, with some species even capable of inhabiting freshwater.

Are There Rays That Don’t Sting?

Yes, there are rays that do not possess a sting. Among the diverse family of rays, many species, like manta rays and eagle rays, lack the venomous sting commonly associated with stingrays.

Instead, these rays have evolved other mechanisms for defense and feeding. Manta Rays, for example, are large filter feeders and pose no threat to humans.

Their survival strategies focus more on size and mobility. This diversity in characteristics reflects the wide range of adaptations within the ray family in response to different environmental challenges.

What Is the Largest Ray?

The Manta Ray holds the title of being the largest type of ray. Specifically, the Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris) is the largest, with a wingspan that can reach an impressive 26 feet (8 meters).

These gentle giants are filter feeders, consuming large quantities of plankton. They are known for their majestic presence in the ocean, gracefully gliding through the water.

We have met 44 different types of rays, yet we haven’t even discussed half of the known ray species worldwide. If you have more questions or other types of rays you would want to know about, just let us know in the comments!

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